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Leadership Highlight: Johnson C. Smith University’s SGA President Sydlie Fleurimond

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Johnson C. Smith University and did an interview with Sydlie Fleurimond the 2023-2024 Student Government Association president.

The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes in being elected by their peers to lead. Fleurimond, who is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Pre-Law, is from Hamden, CT. She is a proud Spring 2023 initiate of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

We interviewed Sydlie Fleurimond, and talked to her about her position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2023-2024.

Read the full interview below.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?

One of the most significant lessons I’ve learned is the essence of effective leadership. As the SGA president, I gained valuable insights into advocacy and representation, understanding the importance of voicing diverse student interests, championing positive campus changes, and negotiating with various stakeholders. This experience deepened my understanding of leadership dynamics, equipping me with the ability to drive positive change within the student community.

Moreover, it provided valuable insights that enhanced my skills in strategic planning, event organization, and problem-solving. Collaborating with administrators, faculty, and fellow students not only strengthened my ability to work in diverse teams but also contributed to establishing a network with potential for future pursuits.

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

My decision to attend Johnson C. Smith for my undergraduate was rooted in the welcoming family-oriented atmosphere and the strong track and field program. Coming from Hamden, Connecticut, and being over eleven hours away, I sought a campus that would foster personal growth while providing a supportive environment, especially being far from home. The professors, staff, and faculty at JCSU genuinely care about students’ well-being and academic success, creating an environment that feels like a second home. Furthermore, as the only private HBCU in Charlotte, North Carolina, situated in a growing city, the expanding networking opportunities add another layer to the university’s appeal.

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

Johnson C. Smith University has been instrumental in shaping the person I am today through its unwavering commitment to academic excellence, a supportive community, and diverse opportunities. The supportive community at JCSU has provided a nurturing space where I’ve built meaningful connections with peers, mentors, and faculty. These relationships have been invaluable in my personal and professional development, offering guidance, encouragement, and a sense of belonging. It has been a transformative force, shaping my character, instilling a sense of purpose, and preparing me to face the challenges of the world beyond academia.

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

In my role as SGA president this year, I’ve spearheaded several impactful initiatives to enhance our school and the surrounding community. A notable project includes the launch of a mentorship program, forging meaningful connections between experienced students and incoming freshmen, facilitating a smoother transition into university life. Moreover, I’ve actively collaborated with establishments in the Biddleville area to create community service opportunities for students and my administration. Engaging in community service is a core belief, and I strongly advocate for the importance of giving back to our community. Through these initiatives, my goal is not only to improve our school environment but also to instill a sense of responsibility and community engagement among college students.

How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?

Under the Fleurimond-Mitchell Administration at Johnson C. Smith University, our commitment to addressing mental health is a comprehensive and multifaceted effort. We place a strong emphasis on recognizing the importance of mental well-being and have implemented various strategies to support our students. These initiatives encompass guiding them to counseling services, organizing awareness events to reduce stigma, offering peer support programs, and ensuring easy access to online resources. Our university hosts multiple organizations specifically focused on mental health, and we actively collaborate with health services to provide a holistic approach to student well-being. It is our priority to consistently provide insights into the specific programs and resources available, ensuring continuous support for the mental health of all students on campus.

What does leadership mean to you?

Leadership, to me, means having the ability to inspire and guide others toward a common goal. It involves setting a positive example through one’s actions, fostering a collaborative and inclusive environment, and empowering individuals to reach their full potential.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2023/2024?

In the digital age, HBCU schools should continue positioning themselves with a focus on showcasing unique strengths and offerings in 2023/2024. This involves providing comprehensive information about academic programs, admission processes, and campus life. Active engagement on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn is crucial to reach a broader audience, showcasing campus events, success stories, and community involvement. Utilizing video content, including virtual campus tours and live-streamed events, enhances the online experience. Additionally, investing in targeted digital marketing strategies can boost visibility and attract prospective students.

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

Watch The Yard significantly influences the experiences of Black students within college culture, nurturing a strong sense of community. This dedicated platform offers positive representation by spotlighting shared experiences, challenges, and successes, acting as a reflective mirror showcasing the diverse achievements, leadership, and cultural richness of Black students. The impact of Watch The Yard extends to encouraging young students to understand the significance of attending an HBCU. By emphasizing the empowerment and pride that Black colleges instill, the platform inspires individuals not only to excel academically but also to play active roles in their campus communities.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After completing my undergraduate studies at Johnson C. Smith University, my aspirations include further my academic journey by pursuing a law degree. I am committed to continuing my education and gaining the necessary skills to contribute meaningfully to the field of law.

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

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