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Leadership Highlight: The University of the Bahamas’ SGA President Alexis Lightbourne

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities  across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to The University of the Bahamas and did an interview with Alexis Lightbourne the Student Government Association president.

The position of SGA president of a is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Lightbourne, who is majoring in Architecture and Art, is a current senior and a Spring 2019 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha.

We interviewed Lightbourne, and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2020.

Read the full interview below.

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

As the SGA President there has been numerous unforeseen challenges and new experiences that have transformed my understanding of what it is to be a servant leader.

I’ve been given the opportunity to interact with unique personalities, both administration and student body. Throughout these interactions I’ve learnt to consider all opinions, suggestions and critiques when making critical decisions that affect the student population. This year I gained a greater understanding of the university and how it functions, making it more effective to advocate on campus grounds.

As leader, situations have taught me how to effectively serve and protect the rights, promote the welfare and interests of the student body, and foster among our members a sense of responsibility and UB pride.

What made you decide to attend The University of the Bahamas for undergrad? 

Our Bahamian forerunners laid the foundation to ensure that my future as a young Bahamian was secured. It is through their struggles and perseverance that I am afforded the opportunity to obtain a tertiary education. Currently, the government of the Bahamas provides free tuition for students of the University of the Bahamas who meet certain entry requirements.

I took advantage of the opportunity since the government has funded the education thousands of Bahamians have received from UB through the National Bursary Scholar programme.

Additionally, the end goal is to contribute towards the development of the country. I made the decision to live, work, and preform as an architect in my own country, so it only made sense to obtain the best level of training and education at the University of the Bahamas. The professionals and educators that lecture me today have the experience and exposure of the Bahamian climate, build environment and materials that are used for Bahamian vernacular.

How has The University of the Bahamas molded you into the person you are today?

Currently I am enrolled in the BA Architecture program and AA Arts Program at the University of the Bahamas, where I’m heavily involved with student life and club activities to help, support, and maintain the proper campus experience.

During my tenure at the University of the Bahamas, I have risen to the top as one of a handful of students selected to lead efficiently and effectively. I believe that through determination and selfless acts there is no stopping what can be produced. This University presented me with a platform that allowed me to advocate for the student body, increase student moral on campus as well as represent the school in various projects.

Within the Student Government Association, I have served on many committees such as the Disciplinary Board, Renovations, SGA Serves, Appointments, and Recycling Committee.

In fall 2016, I was enrolled in a Studio class where I was afforded an opportunity to participate and join the Bahamian design team that would create the Bahamas’ pavilion, to be displayed in Dubai for Expo 2020. During this tenure, I along with a few other team members from the University of the Bahamas served my country and presented in front of various architects and engineers which shows a unique opportunity for youth to learn from industry experts and gain skills as well as experience to build.

“She intends to break the mould. She dreams of becoming an architect, a predominately male focused career path.” I thrive off any challenge in a work environment and I believe my involvement in various activities on campus, voluntarily and academically, has given me the drive needed to harness my creative skills in design, innovation and sustainability.

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

Our focus was to ensure a smooth transition for incoming freshman to the University of the Bahamas. We worked alongside the Campus Life Department in carrying out New Student Orientation which consisted of welcome ceremonies, a parent’s day, tours, and a club showcase.

Within the past months, it has been a difficult time for The Bahamas as Hurricane Dorian made landfall and devastated the northern islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. Members of SGA committed themselves to volunteer with organizations such as N.E.M.A. (National Emergency Management Agency) during the storm and Hands for Hunger immediately after.

We assisted our UB-North family in as many ways as possible. The hurricane relief initiatives that were established are through UB Cares:

  1. Where students and the general public were able to donate items such as good clothing, hygienic products and canned goods.
  2. $2 Tuesdays, where the members of SGA seek monetary donations from the student body to assist in hurricane relief.
  3. Healing Circles, where the Counselling and Psychological Services and Academic Counselling and Advisement Departments presented group sessions of prayer and counselling for students affected by Hurricane Dorian.

These initiatives contributed towards care packages that were given to students affected by hurricane Dorian.

This school year has had its fair share of challenges. This Spring semester, we are dealing with the uncertainty of COVID-19. Currently, the SGA is using various social media platforms to engage and uplift students during this time. We created an “Information Box” that allows students to voice their questions or concerns while we continue the remainder of the semester through online classes.

How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?

The University of the Bahamas has set up an Email alert update system that keeps the student body aware of all activities concerning the corona virus such as: updates, precautions, and transitioning methods for online classes. In addition, those students that have questions or concerns, the University released a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document of common questions and answers for student use.

For easier accessibility, The Student Government Association then created an “Information Box” for students to contact their school senators and executive SGA board members with questions and concerns for them to be forwarded to the various VP’s that sit on the Administrative Council Board.

Both the University and the SGA are updating their social media platforms to uplift and engage the study body.

How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year? 

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly changed the way the globe operates and we the SGA have been affected by this reality. We have now been required to conduct all operations online. In the upcoming months we will host an online election campaign using social media platforms for the incoming board members. Fortunately, over the years we’ve moved our voting process online providing students with the opportunity to engage virtually.

Our plan is to promote SGA while the semester is still in session, hopefully gaining the interest of the student population during this difficult time.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is when an individual can change their thoughts, break through limitations and take action while inspiring others to do the same. This role requires you to become selfless, taking the time out to do more than is required. Most importantly, you must be accountable and take responsibility for any act. Leadership is realizing that we can help, assist and contribute to the betterment of our society while motivating others to achieve this common goal.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?

As for technology’s impact on learning, our primary challenge remains the lack of access our students have to technology. After speaking with our Vice President & Chief Information Officer he confirmed that this is not just a UB issue but a national one.

Universities should invest in technology, insuring that all faculty and students are equipped with the tools needed for online classes. There must be direct training for faculty to focus on creating and delivering content for online learning.

Colleges and Universities should pay special attention to what their colleagues around the world are doing since this is now a global phenomenon. History has revealed that necessity is the mother of invention. Covid-19 will result in the creation of inventions and new means of operations for us all.

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

The rich history of people of African ancestry is one that is important and deserves much recognition. Watch The Yard currently provides a positive factor for college students to display our rich African ancestry and present-day university experience and tradition. It also provides an avenue for us to be kept informed of what fraternities and sororities are doing on their campuses.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation I seek to attain my Master’s degree at a distinctive location which emphasizes on art and design, aiding to unleash my creativity and maximizing multiple options for sustainability. Thereafter, I will become an Architect, obtaining my architecture license, and building a design firm in the near future.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Alexis Lightbourne for her work as the SGA president of The University of the Bahamas.

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