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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: Saint Louis University’s SGA President Aric Hamilton

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Saint Louis University and did an interview with Aric W. Hamilton 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. Hamilton, who is majoring in History, is from Saint Louis, Missouri.

We interviewed Aric Hamilton, 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?

Perhaps one of the most profound lessons that I have learned in my time as SGA president is the critical importance of humility and grace. As society, and more specifically college students, grapple with navigating through the multi-year twin pandemics of Covid-19 and social injustice, it is imperative to recognize that failure and disappointment will occur and that instead of turning away from and avoiding discomfort, we lean into it bound by humility and grace to “learn forward” even through the hardest of times.

What made you decide to attend Saint Louis University for undergrad?

My journey to becoming a Billiken was indeed not a linear one. As a native son of Saint Louis, when searching for post-secondary institutions to pursue my undergraduate education, I was intent on looking at institutions that would lead me to venture outside of the Saint Louis area. However, I decided to apply to SLU because my mother is an alumnus and was moved by SLU’s Catholic Jesuit mission and identity rooted in service to humanity and social justice. Later, when visiting the campus for a scholarship event, I had an epiphany and knew that SLU was destined to be HOME for the next chapter of my life. From the tight-knit community feel that SLU offered to the explicit dedication of so many students, faculty, and staff to be in accompaniment of those living at the margins of society, I knew I would be remiss had I not taken the opportunity to become a Billiken. #God Bless, Go Bills!

How has Saint Louis University molded you into the person you are today?

My time at SLU has molded me into a better individual and leader that is committed to the Jesuit charism of being a “person for and with others” through every phase of my life endeavor. Through the rich liberal arts academic experience to integrated experiences of services, SLU has pushed me to new heights, and I have grown tremendously because of it.

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?

As President, I am working in collaboration with University stakeholders to elevate the experience at Saint Louis University in the direction of an institutional culture where all are seen, heard, valued, and, most importantly, loved. To make notable progress toward this outcome, my team and I are aligning our work to these strategic priorities: IDEA: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility; Holistic Student Well-being and Flourishing; and Radical Imagination and Innovation. By embedding the tenets of these core focus areas across every dimension of our work, we will develop into a more accessible and student-friendly organization in policy and practice. And ultimately deliver on our promise to be “a resource and voice” for ALL students.

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

As the collective mental health and well-being of students have become strained in the past few years, the institution, in partnership with SGA, has worked collaboratively with the campus community to improve student well-being at the systemic level for every dimension of the student experience in a multi-year strategy informed by all stakeholders.

What does leadership mean to you?

I define leadership as one using the unique talents and gifts they are blessed with in service for the greater good of humanity, wherever they may fall across the spectrum of the human experience. For me, this sentiment is the cornerstone of my “why?” as a leader and is what keeps me grounded in my values when traversing through even the most complex and ambiguous of scenarios.

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

As institutions often with storied histories and legacies, it is imperative that stakeholders within their respective institutions converge to define what shapes their identity and how they will authentically share the story and the “why?” of their institutions in the digital context that speaks transcendently across generations and social identities.

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

Watch The Yard offers a unique space within the landscape of modern media that uplifts and highlights the many perspectives and lived experiences that shape the Black collegiate experience. By doing such, Watch The Yard is providing insight into the authentic experiences of Black collegians and creating greater access to these experiences for the Black community and society in general.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to continue to live the mission of SLU by continuing to lead, serve, learn, and connect as a person for [and with] others every step of the journey, succeeding my time as an undergraduate student at SLU. Furthermore, as a future educator seeking to make a positive impact at the K-12 level and post-secondary, the notion and value of being in accompaniment of and in service of those at the margins of our society will guide me both personally and professionally in every stage of my life endeavors. As for in the words of James Baldwin, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Aric Hamilton for his work as the SGA president of Saint Louis University.

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