This article and interview is sponsored by ETS and the GRE® General Test and done in collaboration with Watch The Yard. Click here to learn more about the benefits of taking the GRE® General Test.
In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard teamed up with the ETS and the GRE® General Test and reached out to Shaun Coleman the Student Government Association president of North Carolina Central University for an interview about campus leadership.
The position of SGA president of an HBCU is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Coleman, who is majoring in Mass Communications, is a current senior.
We interviewed Coleman, and talked to him about his tenure as SGA president, 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?
One of the biggest things I’ve learned while being president is just like any other job or position, you won’t be able to please or satisfy everyone with each decision you make. However, while being in this role, the student body has entrusted you with the mantle of leadership, meaning that you must make the best decisions, you feel are right in order to progress your student body and ultimately, your institution.
What made you decide to attend North Carolina Central University for undergrad?
Actually, going into my senior year of high school, I had no idea where I wanted to go for college. Literally, when I graduated high school I was set to attend a highly respected private institution out-of-state. After much deliberation, I decided that remaining in-state would be the best financially responsible decision for me. While still in uncertainty, I attended orientation at North Carolina Central University. During orientation, the NCCU’s family-oriented atmosphere and tight-knit community that I experienced assured me that NCCU was the place for me.
How has North Carolina Central University molded you into the person you are today?
At NCCU, our campus community lives by the institution’s motto of “Truth and Service.” Through our academic programs and community engagement, we have no choice but to exemplify our motto. Since my short time here (3 years) at NCCU, I have been able to grow as an individual not only academically and professionally but also in ways that have bettered me as a citizen of our community. We are the first state-supported university in North Carolina to require community service for graduation. With this requirement, we are committed to serving and engaging with our community, which helps us become better equipped to change the world, not just by our knowledge but by our service to others.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
This year’s administration, under my leadership, has led under our strategic plan initiative “R.O.L.E” This acronym stands for (R)ecruitment/Retention, (O)utreach and Community Involvement, Legacy, & Efficiency. In the fall semester, due to the impacts of COVID-19 – we primarily focused on our outreach and community involvement initiatives. Those initiatives included addressing and promoting voter registration and participation. During this past general election, we had over 7,000+ people for early voting at our on-campus precinct. This was a wonderful accomplishment for us, not only encouraging our students to vote but seeing over 1,000 of those people on the first day. This was a tremendous victory due to the support of our Division of Student Affairs and our SGA’s outstanding Political Action and Civic Engagement Committee.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Due to the increasing rapid cases of COVID-19, NCCU is working closely with our UNC System to assure our students are remaining safe as possible. There are about 4,000+ students currently residing on-campus, abiding by the necessary guidelines set in place, for our safety. Even in these unprecedented times, our SGA has continued to work closely with university administrators to assure that students are still being advocated for despite the circumstances. We have been in non-stop communication with our Divisions of Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, and other departments to assure students the best experience possible, safely as possible.
What does leadership mean to you?
Leadership to me is being able to do the right thing and exhibit excellence when no one is following you. I believe that when you actively do the right thing and remain consistent, then the people around you will trust you to lead them when the time is right.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
Surprisingly, we are nearing one year since the Coronavirus pandemic began. I believe that with this becoming our “new normal” we can’t continue with the same approach as we did when we first transitioned. In a digital world, in order for schools to represent themselves online – they must come up with creative and innovative ways to connect and engage with students. Everything in life has become virtual, so it is important that schools find a way to set themselves apart.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch the Yard, is important to students and college culture because it intentionally focuses on HBCUs and the students, alumni, and faculty at those institutions. There aren’t too many outlets that showcase and promote what is going on at HBCU’s, therefore it is important to have sources like Watch the Yard that highlight the great institutions that are often overlooked.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school to obtain my Masters in Business Administration. Later, entering into the career field of Marketing and Management.
You are going to grad school, why do you think it is important to take the GRE® General Test?
Not only is the GRE required for admittance into most graduate programs but I believe taking the GRE helps one determine if they’re prepared or ready for graduate school, first. Taking the GRE also can help boost your graduate school application and assure you that’ll you be in class with the best of the best. The GRE can also be an individual’s opportunity to get into graduate school if they possibly didn’t have the best “educational experience” in undergrad – meaning they didn’t have all A’s or the highest GPA. Overall, the GRE is just another opportunity to enhance your graduate school application that will make you competitive among your peers who might also be applying to graduate school at that time.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Shaun Coleman for his work as the SGA president of North Carolina Central University.