In an effort to highlight the people who are leading graduate universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and did an interview with Elisabeth Bellevue 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. Bellevue, who is majoring in Strategic Communications, is a current senior and a Spring 2018 initiate of Delta Sigma Theta.
We interviewed Bellevue, 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?
During my term as Student Government Association President, I have learned the importance of amplifying the voice of the student body. When I say this, I mean to say that it is important that students feel that they have a seat at the table. Yes, as President of the student body I have an obligation to serve as a liaison between my peers and administration while also voicing their concerns, but I believe in the power of student advocacy. Part of my platform when running emphasized that students deserve to shake the table. They deserve to advocate on their own behalf according to their rights per the SGA Student constitution. Since my arrival at Lincoln University, this was the first academic year where I was able to truly say the students stepped into the power of their voice.
What made you decide to attend Lincoln University of Pennsylvania for undergrad?
I believe that Lincoln University of PA was predestined for me in the plan that God had for my life. I decided to attend Lincoln for many reasons. I came across this university during a college fair in high school that had majority PWIs present. Lincoln caught my attention and as the admissions counselor began to dive into its history, I knew this was the place for me. Although I applied for other schools, Lincoln was going to be where I wanted to go because it was the only school that highlighted Black excellence. I saw myself excelling here since the day I first stepped foot for a tour in my junior year of high school. The essence of the HBCU culture stood out to me.
How has Lincoln University of Pennsylvania molded you into the person you are today?
Lincoln University of PA has truly molded me into the leader that I am today and will continue to grow into. My leadership has been impacted by my campus on so many levels. Through my various involvements and the many opportunities that I sought while a student at Lincoln, I experienced tremendous growth. My journey in college wasn’t perfect but what made it beautiful was the fact that I was exposed to so many different areas of life that eventually played a role in the woman I’ve become.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
This year, I have headed a few initiatives that I believe impacted my university and the surrounding community. The first initiative I will speak about is “Lincoln Day on the Hill” which centered around policy and civic engagement. My executive board (The Level Up Administration) took a bus of interested students to Washington, DC to explore and tour Capitol Hill. This trip was created in efforts to help our students better understand the power of lobbying to elected officials about policies that revolve around Lincoln, while also involving them in conversations about funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Another initiative is the Student Government Association (SGA) Associates Leadership Summit which focused on the professional development of elected student officials such as Class board officers, Student Senators, and Interns. This summit educated student leaders on advocacy, administrative relationships, and much more. This was in efforts to prepare them for the academic year as they stepped into their newly elected roles. With this initiative, my board wanted to ensure that student leadership was being taken more seriously on our campus. We wanted students to know that they are involved, in the loop, and do have a seat at the table.
Graduate School Prep Assistance Program (GSPAP) is an initiative that I personally created to assist students who are interested in pursuing graduate school post-undergrad. This program has 40+ participants who are mentored by current or incoming graduate students from various fields and programs.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
During COVID-19, measures have been taken to ensure that the well-being of the student body is a priority. After student uproar and a memo released by SGA, our University President, Dr. Brenda A. Allen responded with an emergency meeting to address all concerns that the student body had regarding the abrupt decision for students to vacate their residential halls. Also, through our university’s FAQs which can be located on our school website (lincoln.edu), students have been able to stay updated on solutions as they come during the pandemic. Although students are still waiting to hear back about refunds, it has been reassured to them that the university is working diligently to process Room and board reimbursements.
Students with extreme circumstances were permitted to remain on campus until an extended time as they arrange different living and travel arrangements. The university also assisted in providing funds and traveling for those who absolutely had no means of being provided those resources. Online classes were also postponed to the following week.
Recently, a Pass/Fail option was implemented after the Student Government Association and the Black Activist Coalition (a combination of student advocacy organizations) raised concerns that the student body had in regards to remote learning and grading policies revolving around it. Concerns were raised through proposals that implored the administration to take into consideration a more flexible grading policy during the pandemic. The day after, Dr. Deas (the upperclassman Dean) and I held an Instagram Live Q&A on the SGA page to answer any questions students had about the new policy. We were able to answer the majority of those questions while assuring students that the university is working on behalf of them to ensure they have a successful rest of the semester.
An emergency fund was also created by the Office of Institutional Advancement seeking donations from alumni and other outside donors.
I continue to work closely with the administration to finalize more solutions for the student body during this time. It has been a rollercoaster but the faith that I have in my university’s ability to bounce back is tremendous.
How is the coronavirus affecting SGA elections for next year?
Due to COVID-19, SGA elections were digitized and done via social media platforms. I personally believe in the power of being able to physically campaign, but this campaign season allowed students to be more creative and innovative. Campaign season lasted two weeks with voting was held on April 3, 2020. We now have a newly elected SGA executive board and they will be working with the Student Senate to appoint two more board positions of Chief of Staff and President Pro-Tempore.
What does leadership mean to you?
True leadership to me is simply Servant Leadership. Although there are so many different forms of leadership, I believe the true essence of a leader is to understand the importance of service. Service and leadership come hand in hand and while they coexist, there are leaders who disregard the service aspect of leading. It takes a humble heart, passionate mind, and a loving soul to truly be a leader. Leadership isn’t necessarily about you being in the position, it is about what you do with and in the position that you are in.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2020?
It is important that institutions tell their story. We live in an age of social media where people are no being inspired and moved by. Schools need to reshape the narrative of their universities while promoting what is positive.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch The Yard is important to Black students and colleges because it is one of the media platforms that highlights the Black community in a positive way. It uplifts and empowers Black people while promoting the excellence that we exude in versatile ways.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Post-graduation I plan to attend George Washington University in Washington, D.C. to pursue my masters in Media & Strategic Communications with aspirations of becoming a Political communicator.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Elisabeth Bellevue for her work as the SGA president of Lincoln University of Pennsylvania.
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