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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Jackson State University’s SGA President Madison Cathey

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Jackson State University and did an interview with Madison Cathey 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. Cathey, who is majoring in Accounting, is from Hattiesburg, MS.

We interviewed Madison Cathey, 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?

I’ve learned to trust my judgment. I’ve always been a decisive person and a generally good decision maker but having to make decisions concerning the entire student body as SGA president initially scared me. As I’ve grown into my role, I’ve learned to believe in my ability to make critical decisions. I know that I can trust my judgment to decide what’s best for my student body.

What made you decide to attend Jackson State University for undergrad?

Two weeks before I graduated, a recruiter called and told me about a scholarship opportunity for me at JSU and invited me to take a tour. Even though I had already decided to attend a different school, I chose to humor him and visit campus. It only took one afternoon for me to fall in love with Jackson State. After visiting campus, I saw myself thriving here in a way I couldn’t elsewhere. To this day, Jackson State University is the best decision I could’ve made for myself.

How has Jackson State University molded you into the person you are today?

My time at Jackson State has taught me how to be a true leader. When I came to college, I was quiet and very timid. As I slowly adjusted to the new environment, I dared to push past my discomfort and try new things. This decision led me to student leadership, where I gained the confidence to put myself out there and take risks. I learned how to speak up and advocate for myself. I’ve become a goal-driven, solution-oriented leader unafraid of adversity. I’m leaving Jackson State a better version of myself than ever imagined.

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 ran on a platform geared towards creating a campus culture worth being proud of. My administration is doing this in several ways. We’ve partnered with our Campus Activities Board to revive student morale with weekly programming. I wrote an executive order to make student elections more accessible and worked with my VP to reenvision our SGA internship program. We’re improving student life by advocating for student needs such as continuous dining and facility upgrades, both of which we’ve accomplished. Additionally, my administration is serving our community through the implementation of a recycling initiative and partnership with local schools to promote higher education.

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

Student Government Association is working with Jackson State University’s administration to destigmatize mental health. The Latasha Norman Center for Counseling and Psychological Services offers support services to students through various mediums, including individual and group counseling, on-call crisis counseling, and educational programming. We encourage students to take advantage of the services often. This goes back to creating a campus culture worth being proud of.

What does leadership mean to you?

In simple terms, leadership is a commitment to being a part of the solution. When I look back on my leadership journey, I want to say that I contributed to the solution, even when it was difficult.

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

It’s all about the brand. It’s vital for schools to showcase what they represent, especially at our Historically Black Colleges and Universities. HBCUs continue to remain relevant in the social media cycle. I’m amazed at how often and easily we go viral. We don’t have to try too hard to keep up with trends. We ARE the trend.

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

Watch the Yard showcases the best parts of black college culture. We need social media outlets that represent us in a positive light. Watch the Yard does just that. I continue to be inspired by this platform.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to obtain my Master of Accountancy and earn my CPA License. My long-term goal is to have a career of meaning, purpose, and value where I can continue to be a leader and decision-maker.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Madison Cathey for her work as the SGA president of Jackson State University.

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