In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Wright State University and did an interview with D.K. Adrian Williams the Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Williams, who is majoring in Neuroscience is a current Senior and a Spring 2020 initiate of the Xi Tau Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
We interviewed Williams, 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 so far?
The biggest thing I have learned as President is understanding how to make tough decisions that people may disagree with, while still having compassion and empathy for the individuals impacted by my decisions. During my time serving as SGA President and the former president of the Ohio Student Government Association (representing all higher ed students in Ohio to legislators), I’ve learned how to view every situation from multiple perspectives and understand how individual experiences shape the needs and wants of the students I was elected to serve. I have had to develop effective communication skills to effectively work on and complete projects using the skills and talents of those I work with. I firmly believe that you are only as good as your team is, so I have gained invaluable experience maximizing the skills and abilities of my team.
What made you decide to attend Wright State University for undergrad?
I chose Wright State for a few reasons. First, I knew I wanted to stay close to home to be near my family. My hometown is only an hour and a half away from college and it is nice being able to go home and catch up with the family on some weekends. Secondly, I really liked Wright State’s neuroscience program and its commitment to undergraduate research. Research is a huge passion of mine and WSU gave me the opportunity to get involved in a lab my first semester on campus, a rarity at most universities. Lastly, I chose Wright State because I liked the Dayton area. I feel like it’s not too big or too small and I feel like I can always find something interesting to do during my free time.
How has Wright State University molded you into the person you are today?
Wright State has shown me that just like the Wright Brothers doing the impossible and flying the first plane, I can truly accomplish anything I set my mind to. It has given me the confidence to talk to anyone, ask the tough questions, and truly seek out answers in life. I’ve had the opportunity to represent our student body during some intense moments of crisis on campus and navigating these tough times has made me a much more capable and confident leader in every facet of my life. Wright State has given me the opportunity to do things like work with the World Health Organization in Switzerland, meet many national leaders in our government, participate in social justice initiatives, and work in research labs at Harvard and Cornell. To have these opportunities while also receiving an excellent education and making lifelong friends is a blessing, and Wright State will forever hold a special place in my heart.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
I have been apart of a number of initiatives at Wright State. I co-founded (along with my good friend Kevin Jones) the “Retain the 9” initiative on campus, an initiative aimed at addressing WSU’s low minority retention rate. The “9” stands for the roughly 9% of our campus that are African-Americans. This initiative has resulted in an entirely new office aimed specifically at retention issues on campus, over $30,000 in scholarship money for students in need, a number of mentorship and networking opportunities for first-generation students, and a newly created endowed scholarship to help fund 3 student’s education costs during their time here. I have also organized a campus-wide “Women in STEM” event, led an initiative to make textbooks and feminine products tax-exempt, developed a proposal for grading during COVID-19 affected semesters (which was accepted and put into use), and many other projects over my four years in the organization.
My most exciting current project creating plots for NPHC organizations on campus, a project I expect to be completed by the fall of this year. If completed, we would be the first public university in Ohio to have NPHC plots, a huge goal of mine!
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Our school has done a great job working with students to hear what we need. As an SGA, we worked with administration and faculty to adjust our grading scale to remove all F’s received in the past year, held mask drives, operate a food pantry on campus, hosted informational panels with physicians to help us understand the virus, and worked with housing to ensure every student on campus could have a single dorm room to be safe in case of an outbreak. I am proud of our efforts and we have some of the lowest positive case numbers in the state.
What does leadership mean to you?
In my opinion, leadership is all about being authentic and committed to yourself, your team, and the needs and wants of those you serve. Leaders should be selfless and display altruism, empathy, courage, resilience, and honesty. Being a leader means being prepared to take the blame when things go wrong, and receive little credit when things go right. Leadership is about being accountable and confident in your decision making, especially when your decisions impact others. Most of all I believe that leadership is about blazing a path for those coming after you and leaving a legacy. I truly believe that I would not be where I am today without the help of so many people in my life, and I am committed to paying it forward and helping those who will one day follow in my footsteps.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
Schools need to have their ears to the ground of our culture and experiences as young adults in the world today. Things change and evolve quickly and I believe schools should be cognizant of how incredibly difficult it is to get a college degree in this day and age. Truly connecting with students on digital platforms is not easy and it takes work, but it can be done if it is a priority!
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch The Yard is for our culture! It represents everything unique and amazing about being a black person in college today, and gives us a way to connect with others just like us all across the country. It makes it so much easier being a college student and seeing others just like you on social media. This is extremely important, especially being a student at a PWI.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a joint MD/PhD degree in computational neuroscience with the goal of developing more efficient and effective treatments for various psychiatric diseases.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend D.K. Adrian Williams for his work as the SGA president of Wright State University.