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Leadership Highlight: University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s SGA President Hazael Mengesha

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to University of North Carolina at Greensboro and did an interview with Hazael Mengesha the 2022-2023 Student Government Association president.

The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes in being elected by their peers to lead. Mengesha, who is majoring in Kinesiology; Biology and Chemistry, is from Raleigh. He is a proud Fall 2022 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.

Photo of December 2021 Commencement

We interviewed Hazael Mengesha, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2022-2023.

Read the full interview below.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?

Serving as SGA President has shown me the importance of communication between all campus stakeholders to achieve a goal. It has taught me how to effectively delegate work, not only to level the load but also to strengthen my peers as leaders. And most importantly I have learned that a listening leader is the best type of leader.

What made you decide to attend University of North Carolina at Greensboro for undergrad?

Coming from a specifically diverse high school drew me to UNC Greensboro in its similarity. The resources they offer for first-generation students and Black students attracted me as well. Ultimately, UNCG’s effort to invest in my education by providing me with the Blue and Gold Scholarship sealed the deal. Now after being here for 3 years, it has shown me way more than I could have expected and is a blessing I am forever grateful for.

How has University of North Carolina at Greensboro molded you into the person you are today?

UNC Greensboro has provided me with experiences that will accurately prepare me for life after graduation. Having the opportunity to connect with students that come from all over has allowed me to get a glimpse of the different experiences of my peers. Being more eager to understand this aspect of a person’s life journey has developed me into a better advocate on the behalf of the student body. Reflecting back on my journey at UNC Greensboro, this inclusive community has stimulated my intellectual desire to learn, which has better prepared me for an impactful life. This part of my life has definitely expanded my passion to be an advocate and engaged member of my community.

Photo of December 2021 Commencement

What specific initiatives have you headed up this year (or are planning) and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?

Entering the 100th Session for our SGA we had three pillars we wanted to uphold; those being structure, impact, and transparency. For the first time since the Fall of 2019, our Senate has reached full capacity with representatives from various student populations such as our non-traditional students and commuter students. Our main focus right now is to use this moment to reach all our constituents for a greater influence on our community. We ensure our students are supplied with all of the resources on campus by hosting initiative weeks including our Community Wellness Week and Spring Break Safety Week. During these weeks we host daily initiatives such as our annual Food for Fines program with parking services, blood drives with the American Red Cross, and safety walks for campus accessibility. We also took a strive to reconstruct our association in areas that needed to be strengthened especially in ways of holding ourselves accountable. By prioritizing our efforts of building community for our students, it has created a consistent structure so future administrations can build upon what we have established.

How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?

UNC Greensboro and our Student Government Association have worked tirelessly to advocate for better mental health resources on our campus. Our institution has revamped our Student Health Services upon feedback from our community by investing in Psychiatrists, a more diverse counseling group, as well as an online after-hour counseling center. We also worked with our Office of Accessibility Resources & Services to establish sensory lounges around campus to provide a space for our community to unwind. Our SGA is continuously providing educational opportunities for our students to help strengthen the awareness on mental wellness.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is the understanding of how to utilize resources that are within your reach to influence those around you. It is the ability to stay resilient in the face of adversity. Leadership is the confidence that arises within an individual who is persistent on a target.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2022/2023?

In this world of technology, it is critical for our institutions to develop a strong presence on social media and other forms of telecommunication. Schools should construct methods to effectively display what campus climate looks like. Being able to keep our campus supporters informed, and also critically attract prospective students, is the key in creating a tight-knit community with members who are from all over the world. Since online communication is the number one form in our generation, our schools should begin implementing initiatives that use online resources to better serve our community. These initiatives should particularly target our local communities by providing information on topics such as food and housing insecurities, sustainability, and community engagement.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?

Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture because of its ability to create a space for our community to engage. It uplifts and displays the achievements of our peers which is significant in our world today. Watch The Yard provides opportunities for the Black community to be inspired by one another and stimulate future leaders.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Upon graduation, I will pursue my Master’s in Health Administration. While overseeing healthcare facilities I want to advocate for more equitable and accessible services. Later on, I want to eventually do the same by launching similar resources back in my home country of Ethiopia.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Hazael Mengesha for his work as the SGA president of University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

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