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Leadership Highlight: Japhe Jelks the SGA President of Alabama A&M University

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Alabama A&M University and did an interview with Japhe Jelks 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. Jelks, who is majoring in biology is a current Senior and an initiate of the Gamma Phi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

We interviewed Jelks, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2021.

Read the full interview below.

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

Biggest thing I have learned is patience, most people will not see all the hard work you do and nor will they see it, but never fail to complain if things are not exactly their way , but in the long run the reward of seeing the changes and growth that you have helped implemented are much more rewarding and teaches you that great things truly come to those who wait.

What made you decide to attend Alabama A&M University for undergrad?

What made me decide to attend Alabama A&M University was the fact that when i was searching for a not so “mainstream” HBCU the only one I knew of was Alabama A&M University and I eventually began to do more research on the school and a few things on the website intrigued me to want to pursue the University a little more and then they decided they would give me the most scholarship money out o fall the schools I had applied to at the time so that sealed my decision on attending Alabama A&M University and they opportunities have been endless and the growth is tremendous, I wouldn’t change it nor give it up for anything in the world!

Japhe Jelks and the 70th Miss AAMU Rakia Simone

How has Alabama A&M University molded you into the person you are today?

Alabama A&M University has help mold me into a better professional due to all the opportunities I have bene awarded over the course of my four years. It has helped me become more accepting of other people although they may not be as accepting of me. It taught me there are so many types of people in the world and treating with even a little bit of respect goes a long way for both parties. Alabama A&M University has also helped my drive to want to not only better myself but those around me. I came to the university with the background of I have to work hard and alone for everything I want because no one is going to help me get anything let alone just give it to, but I was wrong there were so many people who wanted to help me get to the higher places and connect with others in higher places, and that help motivates me to help those around me and understand that we can all succeed together and dominate in these fields and when I say “we” I mean my fellow African American students and myself, we can help each other get to heights that we didn’t know we could reach!

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

Currently I am working on a mentoring like program in the aspects of help with guiding the college experience for incoming freshman and for just anyone who may need the help. So I am currently working with what we call Freshman Academy to incorporate SGA being able to share their experiences in the orientation classes and answer any questions they may have.

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

Currently my school has responded by offering different types of hybridized classes, we also have housing designated for students who may happen to contract the virus while living on campus where they will quarantine for 14 days and food will be brought to them and any other necessary items. We also do free COVID-19 testing for our students Monday-Friday 9:00 AM-12:00 PM. SGA is currently helping by getting tested and encouraging other students to get tested as well, especially knowing that students will be students and do what they want we jut ask them to mask up and get tested!

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me means you are more than just some authority figure, you hold more power than you know, but in order to reach your full potential you must be selfless. Leadership to me is taking the initiative when no one else does, doing the right thing even when you think no one is watching, being able to follow the instructions given to you and inspiring those around you to do the same.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?

I think they should just interact with students on line and make sure they are still keeping students updated by posting regular updates to their social media pages. They can even have little contests on their pages and raffle off somethings!

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

Because it highlights ALL HBCU’s and we need that kind of spotlight in todays world so the picture of just party schools can be removed, and the world can see that although we have our fun most importantly we produce high quality graduates who can and will be some of the most successful people this world knows! And I love having a social media page dedicated to nothing but uplifting HBCUs which is long overdue!

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation I plan on attending medical school and becoming a certified Ob/Gyn, and eventually opening my own practice.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Japhe Jelks for his work as the SGA president of Alabama A&M University.

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