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Leadership Highlight: Montclair State University’s SGA President Jherel Saunders-Dittimus

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities  across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Montclair State University and did an interview with Jherel Saunders-Dittimus 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. Saunders-Dittimus, who is majoring in Communication Studies, is a current senior.

We interviewed Saunders-Dittimus, 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? 

Throughout my term as SGA President, the biggest thing I have learned is you can think you are ready for what is yet to come but always be prepared for change. There were a lot of challenges and set backs, however, my executive board and I handled each situation effectively. Not only did these lessons help me grow as an individual but it also showed me life lessons that I would have probably never learned if I didn’t become President.

What made you decide to attend Montclair State University for undergrad? 

Growing up, I knew I always wanted to go to college, however, a lot of obstacles distracted me for a while but when I came across Montclair state, Montclair State University chose me. I applied everywhere in New Jersey and did not get accepted anywhere except for Montclair State. I went on a tour with their EOF program and they welcomed me in a way that made me feel at home.

How has Montclair State University molded you into the person you are today?

Montclair State has molded me into the leader I am today. I have always been a leader, I just didn’t see it before.Throughout my time here and leadership experiences, each and every one has pushed me to reach my full potential.

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

Specific initiatives we initiated this year were enhancing student life on campus while representing the unrepresented and being advocates for the student body.This year we put our words into action by being more visible to the campus community, checking on our students mental health and pushing our students to strive for academic success. Our main goal was to be more transparent and show the campus community how important it is to have your voice heard. I believe we achieved it, even though our year was cut short. I believe that our initiatives we set will not only benefit the future of Montclair State but it will also give students a place to feel at home.

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

Montclair State University has transitioned to remote learning and taken all safety precautions regarding the Coronavirus. The SGA has been listening to our students concerns and is currently working on different initiatives to help our students during this difficult time.

How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year? 

Covid-19 forced us to have all of our elections events to be held online. Fortunately we had a great voter turnout and students were engaged by our events that were hosted on zoom.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership to me is the way of life. Being a leader takes courage and sacrifice. It also means to inspire others around me to become the best versions of themselves. A quote I stand by and was written by a leader who has impacted my leadership, Malcom X.

“A man who stands for nothing will fall for anything.”

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

Due to the worldwide pandemic, the digital world has forced schools to come up with creative ways to represent themselves. I think schools would have to become more creative when connecting with their students.

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

I strongly feel that Watch The Yard is essential and important to Black students and college culture. Not only does Watch The Yard represents Black students in a positive manner, but it shows the importance of why you should get involved on your campus where ever you are in the world. Seeing Black Students persevere and accomplish things that were once not possible for us to accomplish due to systematic issues is important. Although I am not in any of the Divine 9 organizations, I salute all the organizations for their drive and dedication to uplifting the black culture and creating a safe space for the black community.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After Graduation, I plan on going to Graduate school to pursue a career in Higher Education and Policy.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Jherel Saunders-Dittimus for his work as the SGA president of Montclair State University.

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