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Leadership Highlight: Northern Kentucky University’s SGA President Daniel Myers

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Northern Kentucky University and did an interview with Daniel Myers the 2022-2023 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. Myers, who is majoring in Marketing/Sports Business, is from Louisville. He is a proud Fall 2021 initiate of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

We interviewed Daniel Myers, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2022-2023.

Read the full interview below.

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

The biggest thing I have learned in this role is the importance of remembering my why. This year has already presented multiple challenges including adjusting to the new role, changing the campus’ perception of the organization, and recruiting in enough new members to bring the senate to quorum. Despite these obstacles I have been able to remain optimistic by remembering my why. This was one of the first pieces of advice I got when I started my term. Keeping your why at the forefront of everything you do helps you to remain grounded and focused. I have watched the obstacles my administration has faced this year discourage members of my organization and I find myself reminding them of our purpose as an administration. When you have something your are working towards you don’t have time to let everything outside of your goal distract you. John F. Kennedy said “Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction”. My administration is full of individuals who are ready to step up and put in the work, but if we fail to lose sight of our why, we will lose both our purpose and direction.

What made you decide to attend Northern Kentucky University for undergrad?

My decision to attend Northern Kentucky University was rooted in opportunity. NKU was one of the first college campuses I ever visited while I was a sophomore in high school. Initially I didn’t think much of the university and the main thing that caught my attention was the basketball court in the Rec Center, but thanks to one of my high school teachers, I ended up coming for a second tour my junior year of high school. During my 2nd visit I was much more mature and I was able to genuinely appreciate the various services NKU had for students. This was also the first time I learned about the sports business program they offered here and as someone trying to figure out what I wanted to do, this actually peaked my interest. I remember speaking with the Director of the Sports Business program in the College of Business and learning about all the opportunities that were available to these majors with Cincinnati just 15 minutes from the university. Coming from Louisville, a city with no pro teams, this made NKU look even better in my eyes. When senior year rolled around and I had to begin applying for schools, NKU wasn’t at the top of my list, in fact it was sitting at 3rd. I got into every school I applied for but what ended up being the deciding factor were the finances. NKU blessed me with a full ride to attend the university. As a child of immigrants who constantly stressed the importance of a college degree, a full ride was the cherry on top and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to earn my degree debt free. More than just the money, I truly enjoyed my experience visiting the campus, the individuals I met, and the size of the university. Once I realized that NKU truly was the perfect mix of affordability, community, and academic opportunity, the decision to come here was a no-brainer.

How has Northern Kentucky University molded you into the person you are today?

Northern Kentucky has molded me into the man I am today through the people. From the moment I stepped foot on campus I was welcomed by the individuals of the campus community including students, faculty, and staff. Leaving home from Louisville I was scared about building a new community and finding connections with people that I did not know. NKU pleasantly surprised me with a plethora of genuine individuals who truly took the time to help build me up into the man I am today. I can remember starting the R.O.C.K.S program and immediately being surrounded by community of support. Since then I have met individuals who have challenged me, pushed me and been there to pick me up when I have fallen. I am grateful for the conversations and the time people have taken to pour into me and encourage me through my college journey. There have been many times that I doubted myself and I wasn’t sure if I was the individual to be in my leadership position, but the people around me have been there to encourage me to continue moving forward. I have met faculty members that I will be connected with for life. I have met mentors who have set the example of what it means to be a black man of excellence. I’ve been surrounded by communities of people who look like me and people who look nothing like me. I am grateful for each and every individual on my campus who has impacted me along my journey.

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?

When I ran for office, I ran on the platform of “Embracing our Gold”. Our university’s colors are black and gold, so “Embracing our Gold” is all about embracing the university and the campus community. The platform’s three pillars were inclusion, knowledge, and culture. Each one of these pillars is an area that we identified as ones that need improvement on our campus. My administration’s focus for the year is to address each one of these area with several initiatives. The first pillar is Inclusion. Our campus is full of many different cultures and ethnicities including hispanic students, black students, asian students, white students, and international students. With so many different groups represented on our campus, we want to ensure that each of them have an inclusive experience as a student. One of the main issues we have identified is the lack of translation options for students who may not have english as their first language. To address this issue we have started an initiative called Multilingual Marketing. As a university who welcomes and recruits international students it is important to create a seamless experience for them through their admissions, financial aid, and housing process. Many of these students are first generation and that alone can be quite an intimidating experience. One way we believe the university can make that process easier is by offering each of the major applications in multiple language. During my tenure as Vice President last year, we began work on this initiative and identified the 7 most used languages on our campus. My administration is continuing work on this initiative, currently working with admissions and campus marketing to bring in students to test the new system they have begun developing.

The second pillar for my administration is Knowledge. NKU is a campus for of opportunity and support services for students. One of the biggest problems on our campus is students simply not being aware of the resources they have at their disposal. One of initiatives my administration has implemented to address this issue is Nuggets of Knowledge. Nuggets of Knowledge is a social media series that highlights various services, departments, and resources on our campus Wednesday of each week. This social media campaign has done a great job of bringing awareness to the resources on our campus and making students aware of the individuals they will interact with at each location. More than just bringing awareness to resources here, part of the heart behind Nuggets of Knowledge is to make the student body aware of who is apart of SGA. Each video is narrated by a senator, justice, or e-board member of the organization. This exposure helps students to become more aware of who is actually in our organization. One of the biggest challenges we have faced this year is changing the campus’ perception of SGA. SGA has had a negative image the past few years due to numerous reasons. My administration is focused of changed that perception by showing the campus we are students just like them and we are working to make our experience better as a collective. By making students more aware of who our members are, we hope students will feel more comfortable bringing the concerns to us.

The last pillar is culture. Since Covid-19 struck the nation in spring of 2020, campuses around the country have struggled to bounce back from the effects of the pandemic. My university has experienced setbacks with campus vibrancy and student engagement. One of the biggest issues my administration recognized was that there has been a lack of “campus culture” since covid. Many of the traditions that our university has done in the past have fallen off or been forgotten due to the year in covid when no events could happen. As part of my administration’s focus on rebuilding the culture, we wanted to bring back some of the past events students have enjoyed. One of the events we identified was NKU’s Family Day. Family Day is a time for students and families to come together on our campus to fellowship together. This event hasn’t been held on our campus since fall of 2018. We believe this event will help to strengthen the culture of our campus while also building up the Norse pride of each student. Each of these initiatives are focused on promoting inclusion, knowledge, and culture on our campus. We hope to these initiatives will contribute to an overall successful year.

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

My institution is addressing mental health in our students in several ways. One of the biggest ways they have been able to impact student’s mental health is by providing free counseling services on campus. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we saw the entire country being forced to stay inside and away from one another. Students around the nation were suddenly forced to move online. This put every student in a state of isolation were they couldn’t interact with their peers or professors. SGA recognized how this could affect the well-being of students and urged the university to make counseling services accessible to all students regardless of financial means. The university listened to the students and committed to funding counseling services for the past 3 years.

What does leadership mean to you?

In my eyes leadership is setting the example. Through out my life I have held many leadership positions and one thing that I have always found to be true is the importance of leading by example. In a leadership role all eyes are on you. Everyone following behind you is watching you to see what is expected and everyone outside your group is watching how you carry yourself in the position. During my summers I work at a christian sports camp called Kids Across America and one of the most important lessons I learned there was “What you do in moderation, those who follow you will do in excess.”. That lesson has stuck with me since I first heard it 3 years ago. As a leader there are many times you will find yourself doing things you may not enjoy, but you recognize them to be beneficial for the group as a whole. There is an altruistic mindset you must have in a leadership position because you are often required to set the example and many times that means doing what is hard. That may be being the first person to show up to help set up and event and being the last person to leave the after cleaning up. That could also be putting aside your pride and being the bigger man to resolve a conflict between members of your organization. It could even be a simple as showing compassion to those that you know have wronged you in a situation. As a leader it is so important to recognize that all eyes are constantly on you and the standard you set will be the one those under you will follow, whether that is a strict standard or a loose standard, the choice is yours.

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2022/2023?

I believe the universities need to show their authentic selves online. Many colleges have online presences where they show students on their campus having a “good time” and showing “diverse” communities. While this is all great and grand, I believe this is an outdated method to attract people especially when social media allows you to capture almost any moment any time. Universities should use this feature to capture students having organic reactions wit one another, not the scripted interactions to prove how “fun” a school. In the same sense, faculty and staff should be highlighted showing their authentic selves so students know the type of people they can expect to see in the classroom. Showing people your authentic self allows them to appreciate you even more.

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

 I believe Watch the Yard is important to black students and college culture because it highlights the black college experience. As black people it isn’t often that we are celebrated by our society. Watch the Yard provides a space for black folks to come together and recognize one another’s accomplishments. It is an interactive space were people from every university, nation, and generation can come see what Black Excellence looks like in several areas. It has gradually become an anchor for the black community that sets a standard of excellence.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation I plan to take a gap year before pursuing a master’s degree. During this gap year I am planning to work for one of the pro sports teams in the area. I am hoping to land a position in sales for either the Bengals or the Reds. I have begun leveraging my connections in the sports industry and have even been lucky enough to earn multiple shadowing opportunities in the field. My goal is to one day land a position in the NBA as a marketing executive or game experience manager. I’m not sure where my career in sports will take me, but I am excited for the journey.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Daniel Myers for his work as the SGA president of Northern Kentucky University.

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