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Leadership Highlight: Old Dominion University’s SGA President Isaiah Lucas

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities  across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Old Dominion University and did an interview with Isaiah Lucas 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. Lucas, who is majoring in Higher Education, is a current senior and a Spring 2020 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha.

We interviewed Lucas, and talked to him about his 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? 

The biggest thing I have learned is how to move as a team. When you are in a group of people no matter who is the leader, you have to operate and move as one. The team has to always be on the same page and move accordingly. When your SGA team is all on one accord you can produce high impact results and advocacy in the most effective manner for the student in which you serve.

What made you decide to attend Old Dominion University for undergrad? 

Old Dominion University became my ideal institution because of the great things the school was doing around equity and diversity. In times like this, where hate and racism is so prevalent in society; Old Dominion University stood as a pioneer for Diversity and Inclusion and dedicated programs and initiatives to make sure minority students with a special focus on students of color can have a sense of community and belonging at the university. I found my niche at Old Dominion University and felt a community from the first day I walked on campus.

How has Old Dominion University molded you into the person you are today?

Old Dominion University has provided me with so many resources to grown and develop as a leader and as a professional. From conferences, to workshops, and even trainings; I have been afforded so many opportunities to travel the United States to not only represent and share my essences as a student but to learn from others and grow and develop as a leader. I have had the opportunity to serve on so many committees and meet so many people, that have each sowed a seed into the plant I aspire to grow and become.

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

This session in the Student Government Association, the biggest initiative we spearheaded is the Amplify Your Voice Campaign. This campaign is an initiative that allows students to be involved in deciding the direction of our university. This is done by allowing students to serve on respective university committees, the implementation of the “What do you want Tuesdays” program, creating focus groups for university projects and the implementation of class council. All these efforts and more allow students to be the say and have a say in the direction of our university. We also have partnered with National Society of Campus Leaders to improve our Student Voice Index. The Student Voice Index, is a measure of how influential the student voice is at our campus! When using the SVI tool, Old Dominion University was one of the leading institutions in terms of Student Voice in the State of Virginia. This program allows to develop this even further.

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

Old Dominion University has first created an emergency fund for students in need. Our Vice President for Student Affairs and our President have kept students looped in through emails, text messages and even videos to let our students know that we are all in this together. All of our student focused offices are remaining open and are available to students virtually. Our Housing and Residence Life Team has allowed students to retrieve there belongings and has allowed for students who are home insecure to stay on campus. ODU has also recently announced that they will be granting over 8.4 million dollars in refunds to students. Lastly, ODU has allowed student workers to count getting paid which is a plus for students who relied solely on university employment.

How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year? 

COVID-19 has completely shifted the way we operate as an organization. We have 100% moved to a virtual platform and the respective elections have shifted as well. Our elections committee has a lot of work to do in order to ensure that the elections are marketed in a way that energizes our students to be involved and engaged even through these trying times. I also think this presents SGA and Higher Education as a whole an opportunity to figure out ways to best support and engage students who were already online students. Moreover, ODU SGA is and always will be dedicated to ensuring our practices promote high impact and involvement of the students we serve.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me means the ability for to effectively create a vision and galvanize support of followers through strategic relationship building and building a sense of commonality amongst achieving outlined and collaborative goals for an organization. Leadership is not something that can just be given but is something that is earned once one proves themself to have the best interest of the organization and the followers at heart. Leadership is also about adapting to fit the needs of the organization and followers to create a seamless line to success.

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

I think consistency is the key to how colleges will represent themselves in 2020.

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

Watch The Yard keeps black culture alive in Higher Education. It serves a platform for black culture, with a special focus on greek life, to have a place to express themselves and showcase organizational pride on a large scale. It is a pillar of black unity and proves that you do not have to be at the same college and/or university to unite.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation I plan to enter in the Higher Education field. My long term career objectives are to be a Vice President for Student Affairs or Vice President for University Advancement at an HBCU with hopes of one day becoming an HBCU President. I one day hope to be a state legislator as well. Who knows, I could run for Governor of Virginia. I also plan to be Dr. Isaiah T. Lucas by age 27.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Isaiah Lucas for his work as the SGA president of Old Dominion University.

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