In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Winston-Salem State University and did an interview with William Gibson 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. Gibson, who is majoring in Political Science, is a current senior and a Fall 2018 initiate of Omega Psi Phi.
We interviewed William Gibson, 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?
I have served in leadership positions since arriving, becoming freshman and sophomore class president, White House HBCU All-Star, UNCASG Chief of Staff, a third year Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Scholar, Harvard Business School Summer Venture in Management (SVMP) Fellow and now wrapping up my second term as SGA president. Throughout these experiences, I have learned the importance of advocacy and representation. I entered into these roles ready and willing to conduct tough conversations and educate about the relevance and importance of our HBCUs.
What made you decide to attend Winston-Salem State University for undergrad?
I always knew I wanted to obtain my bachelor’s degree. I am the oldest of three children and a first generation college student. I had to figure out the college admission process on my own. I always tell folks when I’m asked this question that WSSU my best choice I could’ve made for my collegiate career. Immediately after taking a tour, I fell in love with the environment. It felt like a home away from home.
How has Winston-Salem State University molded you into the person you are today?
Winston-Salem State University has molded me into a more informed leader for the 21st century. Throughout the various leadership positions and internship experiences and programs, I have been pushed to reach my fullest potential and sharpen my skills to leave a lasting impact on the world while living up to WSSU’s motto of “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve.”
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
One particular initiative I take pride in is the HBCU Collective Day of Action. I have taken part in it for three years. This is organized by WSSU alumnus, Robert Stephens. HBCU Collective “Day of Action,” where students go to Capital Hill, and lobby lawmakers on issues important to them and their schools. In addition, I am a big advocate for students experiencing high impact practices: internships, study abroad, leadership/research conferences. In order to increase accessibility to professional clothing. I received a grant through the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments (UNCASG) to establish the first official professional clothing closet on our campus. My administration has done work to streamline student emergency funds, voter registration drives and providing education on student the tuition and fees process.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Our university has set up a student emergency fund as well as provide students with hotspots and laptops. In addition, I along with other student leaders within the University of North Carolina Association of Student Governments approved for our budget to be collapsed to create a COVID-19 relief fund for our 17 institutions within the University of North Carolina (UNC) System. We received a match from the Belk Foundation.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
The roadmap that my Vice President and I designed had to be altered. We had to convert to using social media as a campaign platform. This is the first year we’ve done it. We will be hosting virtual debates for the office of SGA President, Vice President and Attorney General among other events to educate students on the candidates running.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership is all about purpose and passion, it’s an activity not a person, it’s a verb not a noun. It requires constant interaction with those you are trying to influence , engaging with people to adjust expectations, creating space to tackle the issues and supporting people to take responsibility for change and delivery.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch The Yard, is important for Black students and college culture because it serves a space for students of color to be celebrated and a research tool for high school seniors.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I was recently accepted into graduate school in D.C. as well as a job offer with a major tech company in Texas. I plan on deciding which route I will be taking at the end of April.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Gibson for his work as the SGA president of Winston-Salem State University.
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