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Leadership Highlight: South Carolina State University’s SGA President Zyah Cephus

Photo Credit: Benjamin Gadson

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to South Carolina State University and did an interview with Zyah Cephus 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. Cephus, who is majoring in Marketing, is from San Diego, California. She a proud Spring 2022 initiate of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

We interviewed Cephus, 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 importance of being adaptive has been one of the biggest things I’ve learned during my presidency at South Carolina State University. As SGA President, different obstacles were presented to me when I least expected them. Rather than dwell on those obstacles, with the help of my Vice President, undergraduate advisor, faculty, and the L.I.T. delegation, I was able to use those obstacles for the betterment of my institution by being flexible, adjusting schedules, and creating an effective system.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Gadson

What made you decide to attend South Carolina State University for undergrad?

As soon as I stepped foot onto the campus of South Carolina State University I was captivated by the array of Black excellence, southern hospitality, and family environment. I knew instantly, that this was the perfect HBCU for me.

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

South Carolina State University has taught me the true meaning of Bulldog Tenacity. My institution has inspired me to be persistent with my goals, and reach to become the best version of myself by any means necessary. My HBCU also allowed me to showcase my abilities and receive resources and attention I would have never gotten at a PWI.

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?

This year our main focus is student advocacy. One of our many initiatives is bridging the gap between the administration and our student body. The goal is to create a campus of transparency that heightens the student’s voice. We have hosted a town hall forum that allowed students’ voices and concerns to be heard. We have also used social media to get important information delivered to students quickly and efficiently. Another initiative we value is securing the black vote. We have set up voter registration drives across campus and paired up with various organizations on campus to ensure that students are registered to vote.

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

Student Government Association, and various organizations at South Carolina State University have made an effort to attend to the mental health of students. During quarantine, students were given ‘’mental health days” that allowed students to take a day off from school and focus on their health and wellness. This semester our school’s Campus activity board hosted “Girl Talk” an open discussion panel for women on campus to discuss mental health and the college experience for black women. Also, the NAACP chapter at South Carolina State University hosted”Uncomfortable Conversations,” an open panel discussion for students that allowed students to voice opinions about various topics including mental health within the black community. Currently, Student Government Association is in the planning process for multiple events in the upcoming semester focused on mental health and crisis management.

What does leadership mean to you?

The essence of true leadership is selfless and rooted in service. I believe it is a leader’s responsibility to advocate, educate, and elevate.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Gadson

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

As a marketing major, I have experience with the power of digital marketing and the importance of using strategic social media marketing to enhance admissions and retention. Higher learning institutions need to utilize social media and the digital world in order to enhance student population, alumni outreach, branding, and global connection.

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

In my opinion, Watch The Yard is important because it broadcasts black college life to a larger audience. As a high school senior determining my path to higher education, social media pages like Watch The Yard inspired me to attend a historically black college or university.

Photo Credit: Benjamin Gadson

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

As a marketing graduate with an international business minor, I plan to study abroad while pursuing my masters.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Zyah Cephus for her work as the SGA president of South Carolina State University.

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