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Leadership Highlight: Johnson C. Smith University’s SGA President Shakoya Brown

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities  across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Johnson C. Smith University and did an interview with Shakoya Brown 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. Brown, who is majoring in Communication Arts, is a current senior and a Fall 2019 initiate of Delta Sigma Theta.

We interviewed Brown, 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? 

Being the SGA President has enhanced my abilities to be a servant-leader. By leading with passion, compassion, and integrity, I have managed to reach new heights in my leadership capabilities. This position provides the perfect opportunity to grow and uplift others. This position is about advocacy. In addition to being the SGA President, I am also a member of the university’s Board of Trustees. Leading 1,500 students can be difficult when problem solving but it is your responsibility to represent them and present possible solutions that will positively impact the student body as a whole.

The best way to advocate for the student body is to meet them where they are. Not every student is on social media, not every student takes surveys, and not every student lives on campus. Being unconventional has given the best results and outcomes. The SGA has multiple positions for a reason. As the President, it is important to make plans inclusive of my team and provide them with guidance so that we can gain general knowledge of what students need.

What made you decide to attend Johnson C. Smith University for undergrad? 

Johnson C. Smith University alumni are the biggest advocates and examples of what JCSU can do for you. As a high school Senior, I was honored enough to meet amazing people that were products of my institution. People who told me about their experiences and encouraged me consider JCSU. I received a tour of the university a couple months before graduation and instantly fell in love with the small campus feel, it’s history and significance, and how willing everyone was to help me make what would become the best decision of my life. I wanted to attend a place that had an amazing Communications program that could help me enhance my network and gain hands-on knowledge.

In addition, Charlotte also presented itself to be an ideal city to learn and grow in. Four years later and I have accomplished goals beyond my imagination both on campus and in the surrounding community.

How has Johnson C. Smith University molded you into the person you are today?

Johnson C. Smith University has molded me into the woman I am today because of the opportunities, mentors, advisors, friends, and lessons it has given me. My perseverance has enhanced greatly. JCSU has given me a tribe of people committed to helping me succeed and grow. Because of my experiences, I know that I am prepared to jumpstart a career in my desired field and ultimately impact the world. It is my hope that I can reach back and impact the lives of other students in the way that I have been positively impacted.

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

This year, the SGA has spearheaded initiatives in social action, laid the foundation for policy building, and created lasting partnerships. The SGA was at the forefront of registering voters and educating students on how they can be involved in the upcoming elections and 2020 Census. In addition, the Executive Board attended the American Student Government Association Conference to gain knowledge on how to transform the organizations functions. There has been revisions to the standing documents and creation of surveys and systems that can provide deeper understanding of student concerns. Partnerships have proven to be most beneficial to the student experience and it is our plan to take what we have learned and established into the next administration for further implementation.

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

The university has closed campus for the remainder of the Spring 2020 semester to ensure the safety of students, faculty, and staff. All students are now partaking in online learning. The university is currently finalizing its plan to reimburse students for the remainder of their Room/Board Fee and Meal Plans. As we navigate this new normal, the Student Government Association is continuing to make the voice of the student body heard through advocacy and weekly conference calls. In addition, the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement is continuing to engage students through social media.

How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year? 

COVID-19 has caused the office of Student Leadership and Engagement to consider a virtual alternative for election season. A final decision will be made soon.

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

In order to represent themselves in a digital world, institutions must become innovative in their approaches. Digital marketing must be accurate and interactive for prospective and current students. Student Engagement must continue to occur via social media platforms. Digital Learning must become a perfected process.

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

Watch The Yard is an important resource to continuing the positive portrayal of Black students and colleges. This platform highlights multiple facets of our culture and how we are impacting our campuses, communities, and ultimately the world. The media displayed can serve as encouragement to those students who are beginning to make decisions about college as well. I am thankful for the work they have done and will continue to do.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Post graduation, I plan to begin graduate school and jumpstart a career in my desired field of communications. I have been accepted to one of my top choices and I am currently awaiting answers from a few other institutions.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Shakoya Brown for her work as the SGA president of Johnson C. Smith University.

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