In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to LeMoyne-Owen College and did an interview with Sainna Christian 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. Christian, who is majoring in Business Accounting, is a current junior.
We interviewed Christian, 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?
I’ve learned very powerful lessons about the value of developing relationships with the students who I represent. At the onset of my presidency, I was more withdrawn and hesitant to develop relationships with students who are outside of my friend circle. As the weeks went by, I recognized that I could not truly represent students whose concerns I was not intimately familiar with. To that end, I started trying to meet students where they are. I continue to ensure that they do not see me as someone who is above them, but someone who is standing beside them and ready to serve them at every turn. This is a lesson I intend to take with me though life – building and maintaining relationships is an important formula to achieve success in any leadership role.
What made you decide to attend LeMoyne-Owen College for undergrad?
I chose LeMoyne-Owen College because I was offered a full academic scholarship. Coming from Jamaica, I was most concerned with attending the College which offered me the best financial aid package. Beyond that, I’ve decided to stay at LeMoyne-Owen College for multiple reasons. The key one is because of the level of support that I’ve received, and that I’ve come to recognize is characteristic of HBCUs in general.
How has LeMoyne-Owen College molded you into the person you are today?
The biggest value proposition for attending LeMoyne-Owen College is the chance to be exposed to leadership opportunities early on. Since I attend a small college, there was always the option to get involved in leadership roles since my freshman year. I had the opportunity to serve as the Student Government Business Manager in my sophomore year and then I leaped at the opportunity to run for Student Government President, becoming the first woman to hold the position in (too many) years. This forced me to step outside of my comfort zone in more ways than one. Aside from building on my servant leadership skills, I have had the opportunity to work on my communication skills and learn how to conduct myself in meetings with business professionals. Overall, I’ve been provided an incubator to safely grow, make mistakes, learn from these mistakes and right them.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
My biggest focus this year has been to amplify student voice in different meetings, on committees or at various functions. This year, the SGA worked on ensuring that the administration knew student concerns/ recommendations, especially in situations where we did not feel like we were being heard. As a college that is student-focused, this ensures that student well-being is at the forefront of the minds of decision-makers. Beyond that, my team and I have worked on engaging more alumni and professionals in the Memphis area. This allows students greater exposure to those who passed through the institution and those who are able to guide and mentor them.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
LeMoyne-Owen College has been going above and beyond to support students in this uncertain period. This includes sourcing laptops for students who have technology needs, working with students who lack access to a stable internet connection, assisting housing insecure students to identify alternative housing opportunities (since the dorms have been closed), among other initiatives. Our college has displayed an unwavering dedication to supporting students during this time and I am proud to call myself a LeMoyne-Owen College ‘Magician’.
The SGA is capitalizing on the use of social media to field student concerns, and to keep them updated on new developments. We continue to meet weekly with our advisor to keep him appraised of the concerns we’ve received, and also to be updated on prior concerns. I believe that our commitment to digitally serve speaks to my team’s genuine desire to work for the students. My team involves Franky Mills, Monique Roundtree, Kayla Wright, Gerard Kobeane, Keland Martin, Ronald Snell and Ladarius Wallace – all who have been phenomenal during this period.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
Our SGA elections have been pushed to the beginning of the Fall semester. While this is not ideal, I hope it gives students who were undecided the opportunity to think through their hesitance and hopefully make the choice to run for a position.
What does leadership mean to you?
Personally, leadership is tied to service. I’ve been trusted by students to both represent and work for them, and it would be remiss of me to ever forget that. It involves being authentic, humble and willing to stand for what I believe are in the best interests of those I serve. Leadership also requires a level of steadfastness in my core values and looking beyond an official title to inspire and work towards a clearly-defined vision. Finally, a huge part of leadership is passion and impact. Passion because if I have not personally bought into the SGA goals, no one else will. Impact because at the end of the day, I would hope that the person who steps into the role after me is both inspired and has the opportunity to build on the foundations that I will leave.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
Colleges will now have to meet students where they are, and that is in the digital space. It would serve colleges well to have their communications team focus on building a robust social media presence across different platforms. For many students, it is their primary way to receive information (as opposed to emails or more paper-based options) and it would work well for colleges to capitalize on this shift. Furthermore, it is now more important than ever for colleges to have user-friendly websites and online platforms.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch The Yard is important for being a one-stop-shop to get news and updates about Black colleges. This is vital because the culture we represent is rich and deserves to be highlighted. Having a platform which is dedicated to representing the shared experience of Black students provides longevity and an opportunity to archive these contributions.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
The plan is to move to New York City and practice Investment Banking with a bulge-bracket bank. I hope to also complete a Master of Business Administration.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Sainna Christian for her work as the SGA president of LeMoyne-Owen College.
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