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Leadership Highlight: Shaw University’s SGA President Mariah Williams

Photo Credit: Terrence Jones - @terrencejonesphoto

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Shaw University and did an interview with Mariah Williams 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. Williams, who is majoring in Biology, is from Milwaukee, WI.

Photo Credit: Terrence Jones – @terrencejonesphoto

We interviewed Mariah , 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?

The biggest thing that I have learned as an SGA President is to expect the unexpected. A lot of times things change and you have to learn how to adapt to unexpected changes. Therefore, when you prepare for things to not go as planned, you tend to become better at coming up with effective solutions.

What made you decide to attend Shaw University for undergrad?

When I was in high school, I attended an HBCU College Fair and Shaw was one of the schools represented at the fair. Initially, I did not know much about Shaw, but I decided to apply anyway. Before getting accepted, I did some research on the school and fell in love with the history and family orientated atmosphere. After getting accepted, I received the Shaw Founder’s Grant, which paid for my entire first year, and sealed the deal for me. Because of that, I like to say that I didn’t choose Shaw, Shaw chose me, and I would never trade my HBCU for the world.

Photo Credit: Dave Walters Jr. – @dave_walters_jr

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

Shaw University has molded me into the person I am today in many ways. Prior to attending Shaw, I was quiet and kept to myself, but throughout my time here, I have become more outgoing and feel more comfortable talking to and meeting new people. With that being said, being a Shaw Bear has boosted my confidence as well. Being SGA President was never on my radar prior to college, but Shaw surrounds me with people who believe in me and encourage me to take leaps of faith and they push me to be better.

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?

Firstly, as someone who isn’t always mentally okay, mental health is something I would like to focus on this school year. My plan is to team up with our school’s counselling center, as well as, the Minority Association of Pre-Health Students (MAPS), to come up with ideas on how we can help improve our students’ mental health. Also, student engagement on our campus isn’t the best, so I intend to collaborate with our Student Activities Board (SAB) to come up with new ideas on how to improve student engagement on campus.

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

We have a few different resources on campus that help with supporting the mental health of students. The counselling center is a great resource for students who need guidance on campus and our counselors do a great job. Aside from the counseling center, we also have an app called Bears Care, which offers 24/7 access to counselors and different support groups.

What does leadership mean to you?

The late, great Nelson Mandela once said, “A leader…is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind.” Likewise, under the Williams Administration, my platform is W.E.A.L.T.H., which means Welcoming Excellence And Leadership Through Humility. A true leader is not a person who is boastful or selfish. A true leader knows how to remain humble and put others before themselves; therefore, how you flaunt your wealth is what really determines the type of leader you are, or aspire to be.

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

I think the utilization of social media is extremely important. Many young students get their information from social media platforms and they tend to not check emails that often. Likewise, I think that schools should start being creative and using platforms like TikTok and Instagram. The content should be informative, but entertaining at the same time. For example, when schools post about admissions and recruitment, they could do skits or make TikToks that will capture the target audience’s attention. Another way schools can represent themselves online could be to go Live on either Facebook or Instagram and that can be a way for admin and faculty to communicate information without having to send emails.

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

I believe that Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture because it showcases young Black students in a positive light. Watch The Yard is used to uplift our community and highlight Black Excellence in HBCUs; therefore, it is not meant to tear us down.

I believe that Watch The Yard does a great job of showing both sides of HBCU students: the lit side and the scholarly side. Watch The Yard also promotes HBCUs well. There is never anything negative posted by Watch The Yard and they always highlight the good of HBCUs, which attracts more prospective students and motivates them to want to attend an HBCU.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation, I plan on matriculating at Meharry Medical College to pursue my MD in Orthopedic Surgery. From there, I would like to open my own Orthopedics Practice, as well as serve as an Orthopedist for the National Basketball Association (NBA).

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Mariah Williams for her work as the SGA president of Shaw University.

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