In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Alabama A&M University and did an interview with Jacobi Gray 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. Gray, who is majoring in Communications Media, is a current senior and a Spring 2018 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha.
We interviewed Gray, 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 that I’ve learned as being SGA President at my university is the importance of advocacy for students. Being a leader to this caliber is not easy and has its trying moments at times. Nevertheless, I am the voice for the students of Alabama A&M and when things get difficult it inspires me to never give up, see things through, and grind harder every time I have a new task. People would always tell me, “You can’t make everyone happen.” Of course, being told that and actually living in the reality of those words are totally different. I’m the type of leader that makes decisions that would benefit the student body. Making sure students have the best interactions and experiences with myself, my executive board & senators, and through each entity of the university, is what it’s all about.
What made you decide to attend Alabama A&M University for undergrad?
Scholarship, history, and family traditions are three of the reason why I chose Alabama A&M University. During my senior year of high school, I had no idea about which college I wanted to attend. But God makes no mistakes and watching him move is mind-blowing. Following the money that was offered to me to attend, I didn’t know I would learn so much about my HBCU. If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t choose any other institution.
How has Alabama A&M University molded you into the person you are today?
I’m grateful for the space that is Alabama A&M. Growth is my answer every time I’m asked this question. I don’t know where I would be in my life if it wasn’t for A&M. During my tenure, I have spent all of my time being involved in various entities of the university. Which allowed me to be surrounded by some of the best friends, brothers, and sisters I’ve ever met. My university has matured and molded me into the man and leader I am today.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
With ideas sparking from a fellow member of the Board of Trustees, Jerome Williams, Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Gary Crosby, and myself started a collegiate alcohol & substance abuse recovery program on campus. College students are prime targets for those two and starting this could show the community that A&M cares for the future of our students and anyone else involved.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
With campus closing for the remainder of the semester, everything at A&M has gone virtual. We’re continuing all courses, advising, meetings, and student activities online through various applications. Even though this is different for all of us, it’s a change no one was prepared for. With that being said the SGA is working closely with administrators to cater to students and to make the transition smoother for our students to continue their education from home. During this time, the school has hosted various virtual town hall meetings led by different departments to inform students and answer questions.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
Not only did COVID-19 affect SGA elections, but it affected elections for Miss Alabama A&M & the Royal Court, NPHC, Registered Student Organizations, and other organizations on campus. Some organizations will continue virtually. As for SGA, we will be holding elections when we return in the fall.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership means a lot and is very important to me. Leadership is what you make it. Not only do I work with and lead 32 other people in SGA, but I lead over 6,000 students at my university. Hearing from people that they are inspired by me speaks volumes to what I do in my position and who I am as a person. Being a mentor to a plethora of young men and women on campus is something I never thought I would do. In leadership, it’s imperative to surround yourself with like-minded individuals that would only enhance your leadership skills. The goal is to inspire and have people wanting to follow your path and walk in your footsteps.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
The world is constantly changing and progressing digitally. I think schools need to enhance their presence digitally by making their product and curriculum to people available all over the world, advertising more online, and getting more involved with the spec of technology. Up to date, schools are doing a great job of that but I feel like we’re going to see more representation as time progresses.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
It’s one of the major platforms that cater to black students and college culture. Also, it gives us a sense of inclusion in a world where we’re seen as just a minority. In my opinion, if Spike Lee had a modern digital yard show of news and achievements, it would be Watch The Yard.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Upon graduation, I aim to earn my master’s degree followed by a Ph.D. in Communications and become a radio and television broadcaster. I also aspire to start a nationwide assistance program for African-American broadcasters to help them start their career.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Jacobi Gray for his work as the SGA president of Alabama A&M University.
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