In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Virginia State University and did an interview with Joshua Hines 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. Hines, who is majoring in Biology, is a current Senior and a Spring 2018 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha.
We interviewed Hines, 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 two things that I learned while serving my term as SGA President is that there is NEVER a break when it comes to advocating for our students, and that my impact and influence as SGA President will only be as successful as the work that my entire administration puts forth. In terms of serving the students, as the student body president, you learn to become comfortable in uncomfortable situations, and learn to adapt, engage, and evoke change through different methods of communication whether it be through email, phone call, or simply an in person conversation. My “J.I.G.G.Y” administration maximizes its ability to influence and create change on and off campus when we are all on one accord and in alignment with our set goals and initiatives.
What made you decide to attend Virginia State University for undergrad?
Well, originally, I had no clue about Virginia State, and only applied because my parents recommended it to me. I did know that I enjoyed the HBCU culture, since I went on a HBCU college tour my junior year of high school where I visited Bethune Cookman, FAMU, Clark Atlanta, Morehouse and Spelman. After applying to Virginia State, I received a presidential stem scholarship that covered my expenses for all four years, and this truly solidified my decision as I wanted to remain as debt free as possible since I knew that my ultimate goal was to attend Medical School. During Spring Break of my Senior year in high school, I was fortunate to travel down to Virginia for a tour of the campus, and truly experience my first feeling of “southern hospitality.” However, it wasn’t until after attending my interactive summer orientation session in July, that I knew VSU was the best decision for me.
How has Virginia State University molded you into the person you are today?
Virginia State University has literally transformed a shy out-of-state student into a poised student leader and role model at my institution. Through my education, mentors, organizations, leadership, peers, and other resources, I have gained an unremarkable experience that ultimately has molded me not only into a SGA President, but a professional young, black man that is ready to take on whatever life may have in store. At VSU, we have a hashtag that we often use, #VSUTransforms. Virginia State transforms students in numerous aspects and often inspires us to tap into the potential that they know we have, whether we personally believe in ourselves or not. The optimistic and motivational side of VSU is a reflection of my current temperament, in which I strive to be positive at all times regardless of the possible outcomes. Also, Serving as stepmaster in my fraternity for the past couple years has instilled me with a greater amount of patience, stronger interpersonal skills, and many “teachable moments” in handling the fine line between business and personal relationships.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
A few things that have been implemented under my administration include electronic transcripts which change wait times from 3-5 days to one day, extended library hours, an updated and revised SGA constitution, and a scholarship that was given out to 5 students at the end of the fall semester. Electronic Transcripts provide students with a quicker means of applying to schools, internships, and job opportunities while extended library hours allows students with more time to utilize an educational space in which they can excel academically. Lastly, our annual SGA scholarship, spearheaded by my VP of Institutional Advancement Jonae Crump, provides 5 students with a $500 award that is applied to their student balance for the spring term, and was made to provide financial assistance to individuals enrolled at Virginia State University that exhibit academic and social involvement at our institution.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Our campus has officially been shut down and faculty has moved to remote instruction for coursework due to the unforeseen circumstances regarding the coronavirus. Using a collaborative approach where input is taken from SGA, Faculty Senate, VSU Administration, and other important personnel, Virginia State has implemented an emergency grading policy where students can designate whether they would like the traditional grade (calculated in GPA) or Pass/Fail Grade (Only goes towards Credits) for each individual class they’re enrolled in, and have until after they receive their final grades to make this decision online through a form that will be on the University registrar’s webpage. My SGA administration has played a pivotal role in advocating for our students’ issues and concerns, such as providing input for the emergency grading policy, pushing for student refunds in regards to unused room and board fees, paying student workers, providing our peers with answers to their questions in a timely manner, and most importantly keeping the student body updated as we push through this pandemic.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
SGA elections were originally postponed until next semester, however, we are currently preparing to have virtual elections for our executive SGA positions within the next couple weeks. Candidates have a week to submit their completed applications, and start campaigning virtually about 4-5 days after this application deadline. Campaigning will take place for a week, Monday through Saturday, followed by voting on Sunday via our online voting system that is already used in our typical SGA student elections. The remainder of the 2020-2021 SGA administration will then be appointed by the newly elected SGA President and his executive cabinet.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is action, and goes beyond any words or statements that can be expressed. Leadership is an example, and it is important to remain humble and cognizant of your purpose and ALL followers at hand as they are counting on you, whether you are ready for leadership or not. A title or position does not define a leader, and a position in an organization is not required in order to make a change.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
Ideally, I think that all schools should be able to express anything that they would normally demonstrate in person on an online platform for Universal accessibility and promotional value. The digital world has endless avenues of communication and endless opportunities in which students, faculty, and administration can contribute innovative ideas and concepts that are beneficial to schools’ representation online in 2020.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch the Yard is important to Black Students and college culture because it provides a platform across numerous social media websites that many black students would never see or experience personally in their lifetime. Watch the Yard is versatile where viewers may see a post or story as entertainment, yet may learn something new about their culture in another post. There is educational value, as well as entertainment tied into Watch the Yard, and I believe this is important in drawing attention to many things black students may not have otherwise taken note to, especially in terms of different college cultures.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation in May, I plan to attend graduate school and obtain a master of medical or biomedical sciences degree at University of Pittsburgh, John Hopkins University, Drexel University, or University of South Florida, but my ultimate plan is to matriculate to medical school and become a pediatrician that also engages with patients in the sports medicine field.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Joshua Hines for his work as the SGA president of Virginia State University.