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Leadership Highlight: Northern Illinois University’s SGA President Naomi Bolden

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities  across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Northern Illinois University and did an interview with Naomi Bolden 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. Bolden, who is majoring in Political Science and Journalism, is a current senior.

We interviewed Bolden, and talked to her about her 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 I’ve learned so far is that even though you’re the face of SGA, it truly takes a team to accomplish your goals. The things I accomplished this year wouldn’t have been possible without the work of my executive team, directors and others. 

What made you decide to attend Northern Illinois University for undergrad? 

I decided to attend Northern Illinois University (NIU) because it was the most affordable option. NIU was not my first choice but I know now that it was the right one. My family could not afford to send me out of state and I had only applied to two Illinois schools. I know had I went a different path, I would not be who I am today.

How has Northern Illinois University molded you into the person you are today?

Both the good and the bad experiences at NIU have shaped me into who I am now. Over the years I have developed a strong work ethnic, a network full of like minded ambitious people like myself and a backbone so strong that even the most difficult of situations can’t bring me down!

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

The Future is Female is one initiative near and dear to me. This conference was designed to provide young college women with the necessary tools to succeed after leaving college. Budgeting and finance workshops, entrepreneurship workshops and a professional head shot session were only a few of the things offered. The target audience was young minority women at NIU, but was available to all women on and off campus. 130+ people were registered for this event. Due to COVID-19, the conference was canceled and is postponed until Fall 2020.

Additionally, I have also initiated town hall meetings to keep the student body informed on SGA and ensure transparency and, Project Orange, an anti violence campaign at NIU designed to raise awareness and provide socials to gun violence, hate crimes and sexual assault/domestic violence).

All of these initiatives aimed to improve the student experience at NIU.

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

NIU has been amazing in supporting students and keeping everyone informed of any changes within the university. Students will be receiving refunds on fess, parking passes and housing/dining plans as well as a stipend for student employees. On Monday the university made an announcement about the new Student Emergency Fund, where eligible students may receive up to $500 in additional finical assistance.

Our SGA has kept constant communication with the administration to ensure that the voice and needs of the students aren’t forgotten. We are designing surveys and polls to gain feedback about the online adjust to students’ education as well as held conversations on social media and hosted our Senate meetings virtually to ensure the student body is connected with us while practicing social distancing.

How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year? 

Our SGA proceeded with elections via online only. We hoped that turn out would be good but were prepared for the worst. A total of 250 students voted and we were grateful for all those who participated given the circumstances.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership means being able to understand that we don’t always do what we want to do but we must always do what we HAVE to do.

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

It is important schools offer support to incoming and prospective students as well. This could mean refunding orientation fess or waiving application fees or test score requirements.

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

Because our contributions to society are often disregarded or underrepresented. Keep showing off our black culture and show people what we’re really like.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

I am in the process of preparing for law school. I am graduating fall 2020 and will enter law school in fall 2021. During my gap year, I hope to work in a law office, a congressional or other public office or work as a social media strategist or manager.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Naomi Bolden for her work as the SGA president of Northern Illinois University.

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