In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Morehouse College and did an interview with Cameron Markell Nolan the 2020-2021 Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Cameron, who is majoring in Economics, is from Jackson, Mississippi.
We interviewed Cameron, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2021.
Read the full interview below.
What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president?
Being SGA President had been a goal of mine since my freshman year. Coming into the first term of my presidency, many of my original plans had to be completely altered due to the coronavirus pandemic. In July, Morehouse made the decision to force all students to be 100% remote for the fall 2020 semester. This news was jarring and heartbreaking to me initially. I had planned and prepared for this moment for three years and, in an instance, it was all taken away from me.
Yet, I have learned so much as a pandemic president. The biggest lesson that I have learned is to always be flexible and capitalize on moments when you have the opportunity. Nothing in this life is guaranteed. We can only play the cards that we were dealt in this game of life, and I attest that if we cannot control it then we should not stress over it.
What made you decide to attend Morehouse College for undergrad?
Growing up in Mississippi, I toured multiple big name PWIs because I had been convinced of the erroneous narrative that “HBCUs cannot prepare you for real life.” On one tour in particular, I was one of thirteen Black students out of a group of around seventy. When the tour guides announced that they had a student union, they looked directly at me and said that they have a Black student union, as well. I asked the guide what the need for the Black student union was, and they said confidently that the Black students felt unrepresented on campus. I knew then that a PWI was not a conducive space for my development, and I immediately began my quest of finding the perfect HBCU for me.
My father graduated from Morehouse in 1992, and I had been fighting his persuasive attempts for years. Yet, after that tour, I decided to apply for Morehouse on early decision. After my acceptance, I toured the campus in February during the Admitted Students Weekend and fell in love. After witnessing the camaraderie firsthand, I knew that Morehouse was space for me, and I have not looked back ever since.
How has Morehouse College molded you into the person you are today?
As it is written, iron sharpens iron. Despite Morehouse being an all-men institution by design, the amount of diversity within my institution is absolutely incredible. I am inundated with so many like minds pursuing their own version of achievement. Because of this, I find myself most motivated by the brothers that surround me. My success is contingent on theirs, and I am most thankful for that.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
My team and I spearheaded numerous virtual programming events this last semester. In September, we launched “N’Tern Academy.” This six-week program was designed to enrich and develop leadership with Morehouse students within the class of 2024. They were able to attend virtual workshops including goal setting, Excel training, alumni networking, and instilling positive mental health practices.
Moreover, my favorite initiative this year was the inaugural “Morehouse Media Week.” As an SGA administration, we believed that what Morehouse needed most in this age of COVID was a new form of communication for the 21st century consumer. Thus, we created this “media week bubble” where we photographed, filmed, and edited social media content for the College. All content was made by students for students. The “bubble” was comprised of 16 student actors, 4 student filmmakers, daily COVID-19 tests, and a whole lot of memories and laughter. You can view the latest content on @morehouse1867 or @morehousecollegesga on Instagram.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Unlike the fall semester, Morehouse will operate in a hybrid learning capacity for the spring 2021 semester. Because of this, the role of the SGA is to ensure the safety and advocacy for all students in wake of our return to campus life. Currently, there are two senior leadership SGA officers (Jaden A. Cody and Olamide Fagbamiye) that sit on the Morehouse College Extended Emergency Management Team. Their roles are to continue to convey the student voice and perspective in these meetings with Morehouse administration.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership should be practiced with two principles in mind, service and legacy. In my opinion, who are you leading if you are not simultaneously serving them? The role of an exceptional leader is to submit themselves to their duty no matter the amount of sacrifice nor scrutiny. Leadership is a skill, and it should be treated as such.
Legacy is my favorite word, and my definition of legacy is leaving every space better than you found it. As a leader, I expect you to take any situation, obstacle, or stagnation and actively attempt to provide remedy to the problem. This is not to say that leaders should stress themselves trying to fix everything. However, I argue that productive leaders always provide some form of relief that had not existed before their tenure. These two principles of service and legacy work in conjunction with each other and are two metrics in which I mold my leadership style after.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
Schools have to cater their digital footprint to the market in which they are trying to attract. As technology has become integral to our daily routines, I urge higher education entities to meet their students where they are. If we understand that students receive the bulk of their information on social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, I implore colleges to make their information digestible for those platforms. Furthermore, digital marketing exceeds just reaching current students and their parents. 2021 digital representation is also imperative to attract prospective students while they are still in middle and high school. This is why we created the “Morehouse Media Week.” Our aim is to alter the future of Morehouse’s digital presence, forever.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
If we do not control our own narrative, anyone will. Watch the Yard is essential because they are actively preserving our culture by increasing positive Black representation. There is no other body that serves as the hub of Greek life and HBCU culture like Watch the Yard.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Post-graduation, I have accepted a full-time offer with Salesforce in their Atlanta office. While simultaneously in Atlanta, I will be continuing my passion as a freelance filmmaker (www.cameronmarkell.com). My life has always operated in a duality of creation and business passion. Ultimately, I aspire to create feature films that showcase Black lives in a positive light. In the next five years, I want to own a photography studio where creatives in all capacities can come and have a safe space to create and express themselves.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Morehouse College for his work as the SGA president of Winthrop University.