In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Auburn University at Montgomery and did an interview with Aaliyah Muhammad 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. Muhammad, who is majoring in accounting, is from Birmingham.
We interviewed Aaliyah Muhammad, and talked to her about her 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’ve learned as SGA President so far is that you have to lead by example. It is very difficult to hold others to standards you do not hold yourself to. It is not only difficult, it is also ptochocracy and outright wrong. I had to start with the man in the mirror as the iconic Michael Jackson said. Otherwise, everyone I try to lead in the right direction has valid reason to go left instead. I hope my play on words did not lose anyone, but the biggest, strongest, and most sustainable trees are all grounded by roots. I had to learn that in order to want reliability, hard work, dedication and effort from my team I had to first embody those characteristics myself.
What made you decide to attend Auburn University at Montgomery for undergrad?
I attend Auburn University at Montgomery for undergrad because of the environment and class sizes. From the first time I stepped foot on this campus, I knew it was my new home away from home. Over the course of the last 4 years I have made unforgettable memories, formed irreplaceable bonds, and gained a ton of knowledge. I knew coming from a relatively small high school with class sizes varying between 20-30 students, that was similar to what I wanted for my college class sizes. The average student to teacher ratio at AUM was 1 to 30 and that alone sat AUM apart from all the other universities I had been accepted into.
How has Auburn University at Montgomery molded you into the person you are today?
Auburn University at Montgomery has molded me into the person I am today through proper preparation. I pride AUM most for preparing us incoming high school graduates to young confident adults. I am not afraid to leave AUM because feel as though my time here allowed me to gain both knowledge and confidence that I need to be a successful professional in my desired field. We learn in and outside of the classroom. At AUM, they do not only focus on book knowledge. While they do prioritize it, they make sure to develop other well-needed skills like communication, business etiquette, elevator pitches, interview readiness, and much more.
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?
I would like to host a community service project that includes all the surrounding universities in our community to give back to our city of Montgomery as the future leaders, educators, entertainers, scientists, businessmen and businesswomen, chefs, artists, and professionals. As college students we have a small voice in a big world. That does not change the fact that we are beyond capable of making the world a better place for us and future families. Change can not happen without any action so before my term concludes I plan to collaborate with other surrounding university’s SGA agree on s current social issue and collectively come up with a way we can positively impact it in unity.
How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?
AUM’s SGA is currently working on attending to mental health of students through providing awareness. AUM offers many great resources to students to ensure academic success. It can be very challenging to succeed academically when suffering with mental health issues. One of the resources AUM offers, also a personal favorite of mine, is the counseling center. AUM provides counseling free of charge to all their students. Many incoming and even some current students are not aware of this resource thus meaning they can not take advantage of it. Because of this, one of the very first events SGA hosted this semester was “Pizza Mind” where we partnered with the counseling center and provided students with information on where the counseling center was located, how and where to book appointments, and different ways to reduce stress.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership is best described by this acronym:
I came up with that acronym to always remind myself as a leader, I am setting the tone. If I value and push for perfection that leaves no room for mistakes and growth. That is not what I want for any team I am apart of. It is important that my leadership is displayed through the genuine care I have for all students apart of SGA and my AUM student body family. To be a leader means to be able to constantly pick people up when they are down. To be a leader means to be slow to anger and quicker to listen and be rational in situations that may be rather difficult. To be a leader means to purposefully always treat people with kindness and respect because pouring that behavior into one person allows it to be overflown from one person to the next ongoingly. To be a leader means to remain conscience of the fact that people are always looking up to you and it is a daily responsibility to uphold a reputation that can be inspiring to others.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2022/2023?
I think schools need to be as active as possible on all social medias to represent themselves online. It is both a beauty and curse how impactful technology has become in the 21st century. Almost everyone of all ages use social media. The variety of different platforms that social media offers allows people of all ages to actively be informed and entertained all over the world. I feel as though one of the easiest ways to get information out is by posting about it so to efficiently get information out about your institution and what they have to offer would be very beneficial through the use of social medias.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
I think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture because it serves as a strong voice of our community. It has provided a platform for us to be both heard and celebrated. It is important that there is a platform where accomplishments can be vocalized from a worldwide standpoint. It allows unification of celebrations and congratulations for Black excellence while we are still around to receive it instead of when we are dead and gone and nothing more than our names. Watch The Yard is not only a platform for congratulations but also networking. It plays apart in assisting us young Black professionals to build a platform for ourselves and be noticed by future employers, mentors, or or professors.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to continue my educational journal in a Master of Accountancy Program. After receiving my Master’s Degree, I plan to sit and pass the Certified Pubic Accountant exam and become a licensed CPA. To begin my career, I would like to work in public accounting, build a successful personal brand, and gain clientele. I am open to teaching in higher education to aspiring young accountants to be. I have a passion for both accounting and education. Somewhere along my journey I would love to combine the two by sharing the knowledge, experience, and encouragement to the arising accounting stars of the future as my professors do for me. I ultimately want to own my very own nonprofit tax firm. Along with everyday accounting services offered to my clients, one of the primary services that I would like to provide at my firm is free tax services to low income families. Families that have an income under a certain threshold will receive their service absolutely free of charge. That is what I would like to sculpt my firm’s culture.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Aaliyah Muhammad for her work as the SGA president of Auburn University at Montgomery.