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Leadership Highlight: Dillard University’s SGA President Marissa Pittman

Photo Credit: Sabree Hill

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Dillard University and did an interview with Marissa Pittman the 2022-2023 Student Government Association president.

The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes in being elected by their peers to lead. Pittman, who is majoring in Urban Studies and Public Policy (Minor: Mass Communiocation), is from Memphis, TN. She is a proud Spring 2022 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Photo Credit: Sabree Hill

We interviewed Marissa Pittman, and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2022-2023.

Read the full interview below.

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

Serving as SGA president has taught me a lot about myself and the community around me. I have learned the importance of building a pipeline for students interested in leadership. Also, I have learned about the importance of continuity and systems to streamline programs and opportunities. In the coming weeks, the Renaissance administration will debut an internship program to show first-year and second-year students the work that SGA does.

What made you decide to attend Dillard University for undergrad?

On my mother’s side, I come from a legacy of HBCU graduates. My grandmother graduated from Southern University, Baton Rouge, and my grandfather graduated from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. My mother and aunt graduated from Tennessee Stated University. I wanted to continue that legacy. Once I stepped foot on Dillard University’s campus, I knew I was at home.

How has Dillard University molded you into the person you are today?

Fair Dillard has challenged me to be a better person. My experiences have also pushed me outside of my comfort zone. My professors and advisors have nurtured and encouraged me to embrace my passions and step into my calling. At Dillard, I have been reassured that nothing is outside of my reach.

Photo Credit: Sabree Hill

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

My platform focused on building POWER for students at the illustrious Dillard University. The Renaissance Administration has identified five crucial areas to improve the student experience. The five targeted areas are campus infrastructure, improved customer service, faculty and staff incentives, enhanced internal and external communication, and increased student engagement and inclusion.

Additionally, since Roe’s reversal, SGA has created a Reproductive Justice Taskforce to support our student population in knowledge about their reproductive options through educational events and contraceptive distribution. We were showcased in the New York Times and on PBS Newshour for the work SGA does to support our students through this challenging time.

Photo Credit: Sabree Hill

How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?

SGA is advocating for an institutional mental health day and is working with the Office of Academic Affairs to ensure that academic policies in our University catalog support the whole student. Furthermore, we are advocating for more mental health professionals on campus to provide counseling to students.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means knowing how and when to lead and when to follow. Leadership requires a symphony of gifts to accomplish team goals. Leadership is knowing that you don’t have to have the answer. Surround yourself with people who know their gifts, strengths, and limitations and can work towards community impact.

Photo Credit: Sabree Hill

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2022/2023?

Schools must utilize social media tools to showcase the work of student organizations. Furthermore, they should have organized and seamless sites and platforms which make it easy for students, community, and stakeholders to navigate and engage with their content.

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

Watch The Yard is vital to college culture, because it supports Black students and provides a platform to showcase Black excellence. It also connects alumni to their institutions and other HBCUs. It is also a source of inspiration, because it allows Black students to see all of the possibilities for life after graduation. I have enjoyed Watch the Yard’s partnership with the National Black Law Students Association!

Photo Credit: Sabree Hill

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Upon matriculation, I aim to pursue a joint JD/Ph.D. in Public Policy and promote equity through sustainable legislation. My ultimate goal is to lead a consulting firm to support non-profit organizations, government entities, and campaigns.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Marissa Pittman for her work as the SGA president of Dillard University.

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