In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to SUNY College at Old Westbury and did an interview with Kalief Metellus 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. Metellus, who is majoring in Politics, Economics and Law, is a current junior.
We interviewed Metellus, and talked to him about his 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 as an SGA President thus far is the importance of and value in student advocacy. The voice of the student body is echoed by the Student Government Association to produce impactful results for the betterment of the student body.
Additionally, together we can and will achieve more. Being able to serve on various committees, host town halls, create/ implement monumental resolutions, attend leadership conferences, and organize result-oriented protests, have empowered me with the ability to show the student body that we can and will be heard in every aspect of the college life at SUNY College at Old Westbury.
What made you decide to attend SUNY College at Old Westbury for undergrad?
I decided to attend SUNY College at Old Westbury for many reasons. One reason is that out of all the colleges I applied to, this school appeared as the most flexible and convenient in location. The other primary reason includes the student body diversity in the population that reflects the demographics of where I’m from.
How has SUNY College at Old Westbury molded you into the person you are today?
SUNY College at Old Westbury has molded me into the person that I am today by showing me that no matter what your circumstances are, you can succeed. Being a homeless student with little to no resources upon arrival at SUNY College at Old Westbury has been something difficult to grasp. Despite my pain, I turn into power, the many resources that Old Westbury has to offer has propelled me to succeed with the ability to also take control of and prepare for my future. The motto of my college is “OWN YOUR FUTURE’’ and that is something I aspire to do and live by every day.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
Some initiatives that I was able to accomplish in my tenure as SGA President is providing scholarships to seven deserving students, funding an on-campus food pantry to feed students and staff members in need, getting computers installed in the dormitories, Initiating all Fraternities & Sororities receiving a budget for programming, funding 15 students with $800 book vouchers for the semester, collaborating with the NYS University Police to expand community affairs programs, and starting an SGA Alumni Network to provide future SGA leaders with the resources to lead a successful goal-driven Student Government Association. I feel these initiatives will improve the school and surrounding community by showing the student body that the Student Government Association cares about student life, student progress, education, and the overall college experience of the student body.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
SUNY College At Old Westbury is currently closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Students who are either homeless or international students were granted access to stay on campus. In-person classes have now been switched to virtual classes. Computers and tablets are being offered to students who have been disadvantaged by the virus.
SGA is currently working on putting together virtual programs to engage the student body. We are organizing a virtual town hall to hear student concerns and input on what they want from the SGA for the following academic year. We have also issued refunds from the student activity fee to help the student body during this time of crisis.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
The coronavirus outbreak has caused a delay in our SGA elections. Constitutionally SGA elections are mandated to happen every spring semester to make it an easy transition for the new members for the next academic year. With all that’s at hand, our elections will now take place in the Fall 2020 semester.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me means having the ability to effectively take initiative in being an advocate of change. Leadership is being that role model for others to inspire to reach their full potential. Leadership means motivating others to achieve a common goal. Leadership is not letting failure determine your future but letting those mistakes drive you to achieve a better outcome.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
I feel that schools should create a platform where we can communicate through advanced technology. Every year, colleges are becoming more accustomed and advanced to digital learning and resources for students, whether it be online classes, virtual programming, or working remotely. Schools need to start making themselves more accessible online and offer students the means they would need to be successful.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
I strongly feel that Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture because it provides a platform where people of African descent can showcase, celebrate, and educate our culture. In the current times in which we are living in, I feel that it’s very beneficial to have a network that uplifts our community and acknowledge our accomplishments. While I am not in any Divine 9 organization, I salute all organizations for their hard work and dedication to uplifting black culture and the black community.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree in Politics, Economics & Law from SUNY College at Old Westbury, I plan on running for City Council for the Brooklyn District to represent a large diversified community. Being the President of the Student Government Association, representing over 5,000 students has given me skills in effective communication, effectively debating, make unbiased decisions, advocating for the student body, as well as the ability to negotiate, and most important to be empathetic to the needs and concerns of others. Gaining the knowledge and experience in those areas will allow me to apply them to a City Council role. I also plan on expanding my business Kalief Metellus Collection LLC which provides hair extensions, custom units, natural hair products, & men’s grooming products that cater to people of color. My Business Instagram: @KALIEFMETELLUSCOLLECTION. Ultimately, I plan to attend law school so that I could provide quality legal assistance to the underrepresented
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Kalief Metellus for his work as the SGA president of SUNY College at Old Westbury.