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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: University of West Georgia’s SGA President Tyler McCoy

Photo Credit: @uwestga & @UWGSGA

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to University of West Georgia and did an interview with Tyler McCoy the 2023-2024 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. McCoy, who is working on his Masters of Education in College Student Affairs, is from Hartsville, SC.

We interviewed Tyler McCoy, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2023-2024.

Read the full interview below.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?

Being the SGA president has taught me a ton, especially about how crucial it is to build solid relationships and stay flexible. The real game-changer came from my first sit-down with the University of West Georgia President, Dr. Brendan Kelly, and Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. André Fortune. They dropped this wisdom on me: don’t get too hung up on your way of fixing things. Instead, focus on getting the problem solved, period. It hit me that clinging too tightly to my ideas could actually push me away from the help and insights others could offer. Learning to roll with the punches and keep my eyes on the prize, not just my solution has made all the difference in how I lead and tackle challenges.

Lastly, Dr. Kelly also taught me that if you’re unsure about the process, then you’ll most likely end up unsatisfied with the results. As SGA president, it’s easy to want to accomplish so much in such a short period of time that we forget to hammer out the specifics of how to actually get there. One of the best things you can do to set your team up for success is to establish clear processes. From there, it’s all about training and staying consistent. This approach not only ensures smoother operations but also fosters a sense of reliability and trust within the team.

What made you decide to attend University of West Georgia?

Choosing UWG was a no-brainer for me, especially when I found out about their Master’s in Education: College Student Affairs program. The deal was sweet – a guaranteed graduate assistantship that not only took care of my tuition but also threw in a competitive monthly stipend for my extra expenses. Finding a program like that isn’t easy at other schools but what really clinched it for me was the chance to keep learning while getting some real job experience under my belt. So, in the end, it all came down to getting a great deal with affordability and snagging that priceless hands-on learning experience.

Photo Credit: @uwestga & @UWGSGA

How has University of West Georgia molded you into the person you are today?

UWG has been way more than just a place to study. It’s given me this awesome chance to put everything I’ve learned in class into real action, testing theories and ideas in the real world. But it’s not just about the academics; UWG has pushed me to dive deep into who I am and what really keeps me ticking. I’ve discovered my passions, what drives me, and how I can make a difference every single day. It’s like UWG handed me the keys to understanding myself better while giving me the tools to shape my future.

Photo Credit: @uwestga & @UWGSGA

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 administration set out to tackle some significant challenges and revitalize the Student Government Association (SGA) at our university. We recognized early on that to make a real difference, we needed to focus on boosting student representation and enhancing the relevance of the SGA within the student body and the wider community.

We were facing a situation where student engagement was at an all-time low. In the 2023-24 SGA Spring Election, 8 out of 9 races were uncontested, no one ran for the position of SGA Executive Vice President, and out of approximately 12,000 students, only 146 cast their votes. Furthermore, for about 28 Senate seats, which are supposed to represent 1 per 400 students, only 3 students were elected. It was clear we had our work cut out for us.

Moreover, the SGA was struggling with its visibility and relevance. Many students were unaware of what the SGA was, what it did, or who their representatives were. Our signature programs were few and far between, and we weren’t providing the value to students that we aimed to.

To address these issues, we embarked on a series of initiatives aimed at reviving the student body’s voice through their elected representatives. Our efforts have paid off, with a 200% increase in representation within SGA. We’ve also ramped up our relevance through various events and initiatives that have connected us with hundreds of UWG students. These efforts were designed not only to engage students in the electoral process but also to make them feel a part of the decision-making process at our institution.

Our administration views these achievements as just the beginning. We’re setting the stage for an era where student voices aren’t just heard but are at the forefront of driving our institution forward. By increasing both the representation and relevance of the SGA, we believe we’re making strides toward improving our school and the surrounding community, ensuring that the SGA becomes a cornerstone of student life and a catalyst for positive change.

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

Our SGA administration, in concert with the University of West Georgia (UWG), is deeply committed to the mental health and overall wellness of our students. Recognizing the critical importance of holistic health, UWG has taken a pioneering step in Georgia’s higher education landscape by appointing a Chief Wellness Officer (CWO), Bridgette Stewart. This innovative move is part of UWG’s strategic plan to integrate and prioritize comprehensive wellness across the campus community.

Adding to these efforts, UWG has recently launched a groundbreaking initiative—the UWG Mobile Unit. The UWG Mobile Unit provides students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities and prioritizes the well-being of the greater Carrollton and neighboring communities.

The introduction of the Chief Wellness Officer and the rollout of the UWG Mobile Unit are clear indicators of our school’s commitment to advancing mental health and wellness. These initiatives demonstrate our belief that a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body and that taking care of our mental health is paramount for academic and personal success.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership, especially within the context of the Student Government Association, embodies several critical roles. First, it’s about being a visionary—someone who can look beyond the present challenges and see the potential for what our organization and our student body can become. It’s about setting a direction that not only inspires but also mobilizes others towards a shared future.

Second, leadership means being a human developer. This involves recognizing and nurturing the potential in others, empowering them to grow and succeed. It’s about creating opportunities for learning, development, and progress, not just for myself but for all members of our community. By fostering a supportive environment, I aim to help others realize their capabilities and achieve their personal and professional goals.

Lastly, leadership is about being a thought partner. This means engaging in meaningful dialogue, encouraging diverse perspectives, and collaboratively finding solutions to complex issues. It’s about being open to feedback and new ideas, fostering a culture of innovation and continuous improvement.

In essence, leadership within the SGA is a multifaceted role that requires vision, empowerment, and collaboration. It’s about guiding our student body towards a brighter future, developing the next generation of leaders, and working together to make a meaningful impact.

Photo Credit: @uwestga & @UWGSGA

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2023/2024?

In today’s digital era, schools face the unique challenge of representing themselves online in ways that truly resonate with their audience. The key to success lies in schools first understanding their core identity—who they are as institutions and who they serve. This foundational knowledge enables them to strategically navigate the vast digital landscape.

Once a school has a firm grasp on its identity and target audience, it should actively seek out and engage in digital spaces and trends that align with the interests of its community. This could mean leveraging popular social media platforms, embracing emerging technologies like virtual and augmented reality for immersive learning experiences, or utilizing data analytics to tailor content and communications more effectively.

Moreover, schools should focus on storytelling, showcasing real-life success stories of their students and alumni to highlight the institution’s impact. Authenticity in these narratives will be key to capturing attention and building a strong online presence.

Engagement is another crucial aspect. Schools need to foster a sense of community online, just as they do on campus. This means not only pushing out content but also inviting interaction through comments, forums, and live events. By doing so, schools can create a vibrant, interactive online ecosystem that mirrors the dynamic nature of their campuses.

Finally, schools must stay adaptable, continuously evaluating their digital strategies and being ready to pivot based on feedback and changing digital trends. The digital world evolves rapidly, and staying relevant means being agile, innovative, and always focused on the needs and interests of the school community.

Photo Credit: @uwestga & @UWGSGA

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

Watch The Yard holds a crucial role for Black students and the broader college culture, primarily through its powerful impact on representation. The platform is the epitome of the principle that seeing is believing—”if you can see it, then you can be it.” By showcasing the richness and vibrancy of Black college culture, from Greek life to academic achievements and cultural events, Watch The Yard serves as a beacon of inspiration and empowerment.

It’s more than just a website or social media presence; it’s a celebration of Black excellence and a testament to the diversity of achievements within the community. This visibility is essential. It provides not only a sense of pride but also a tangible connection to role models and pathways to success that may otherwise seem out of reach. For many students, seeing others who look like them achieving greatness breaks down barriers and fuels their ambition.

Moreover, Watch The Yard plays a pivotal role in creating and nurturing a network of future leaders. By highlighting achievements and providing a space for stories from across the spectrum of Black college life, it plants seeds of possibility in the minds of its viewers. These seeds have the potential to grow into a vast, interconnected network of individuals who lead, innovate, and uplift their communities.

In essence, Watch The Yard is important because it mirrors the best of Black culture and academia, providing a platform for stories of success and resilience that resonate deeply with Black students and beyond. It encourages a sense of belonging and motivation, underlining the message that their dreams are valid and achievable.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

After I toss my cap at graduation, my sights are set on climbing the ladder in higher education. I’ve got a pretty big dream: I want to be the head honcho at a university someday, a university president. It’s a hefty goal, but I’m all in. I see it as my chance to really make a difference, shape the future of education, and create a place where learning knows no bounds, innovation is the norm, and everyone feels like they belong. I plan to soak up every bit of experience I can get, learn from the best, and make connections that will help me along the way. I’m passionate about education and believe in its power to change lives, and I’m excited to start this journey.

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Tyler McCoy for his work as the SGA president of University of West Georgia.

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