In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Tougaloo College and did an interview with A’mon Haynes the Student Government Association president.
The position of SGA president of a is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes. Haynes, who is majoring in Economics with an emphasis in Accounting and Business Administration, is a current Senior and a Fall 2018 initiate of the Rho Epsilon Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
We interviewed Haynes and talked to him about his 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?
Being elected the SGA president at the onset of the pandemic spreading in America, the world was faced with many challenges that were not absent from collegiate life. This marked my presidency as the beginning of an unprecedented journey. One of the many lessons I have learned as SGA President is to remain true to your beliefs, morals, and ethics. There will be times when others will disagree with you for going against the popular decision. I learned to stay humble but hold firm to what you truly believe is in the best interest of those you represent, the student body. This lesson has sustained me. Looking back, I can readily recall many instances when someone was criticized for taking an unpopular action that they were later praised for doing. In the end, a true servant-leader’s character should rise above personal motives, ego, or popularity. As SGA president, your decisions to empower students, improve college life, and invest in the students’ academic journey should be at the core of every decision. As I stated, remaining focused on what is best for the student body overall is the biggest lesson I learned.
What made you decide to attend Tougaloo College for undergrad?
During the summer of 2016, I attended summer programs on three different college campuses within the state of Mississippi–one of which was Tougaloo College, where I participated in the Summer Science & Engineering Program (SSEP). My exposure to Tougaloo during that six-week program revealed to me the “at home” feeling that Tougaloo embodies. The memories made, friendships formed, and revelation of failed study habits during this short time confirmed that I had found my home away from home. At the climax of that summer, I solidified my decision to attend an HBCU. I made the best decision when I chose to enter the gates at Tougaloo College and soar with the Eagle Queen.
How has Tougaloo College molded you into the person you are today?
My Tougaloo matriculation has been instrumental in molding me into the young man that I am today. I arrived at Tougaloo with the “you’re just here to go to school, that’s all” mindset, thinking I would leave being a leader behind me and “just be a student.” I believe the spirit of my ancestors would not let me do such a thing. I have been involved on campus since I arrived freshman year even after I lost the first position that I campaigned for during that year. Also, learning and owning the rich history of this school’s role in the fight for social justice and being the cradle of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement inspired me, especially in the recent year.
Tougaloo recharted my educational and career plans. I traveled roads that were lined with maturity, growth, and personal prosperity. As a result, Tougaloo changed my initial future goals. Presently, I hope to be an advocate for social justice, educational accessibility, and other issues that impact the world, especially in the Black community. I am grateful for Tougaloo because my educational and life journey here helped me to find my purpose in life.
What specific initiatives have you headed up this year and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?
This year I, along with the student body, helped to promote the hashtag #TougalooTakesControl. The hashtag gained national attention and allowed the students’ voices to be heard. A few outcomes include: the SGA President is now a member of the Extended Cabinet, SGA members are serving on the Council and the Committees that help analyze the practices and determine policies, and delayed a tuition increase during the pandemic.
How is your school currently responding to the coronavirus and what is your SGA administration doing to help students?
Tougaloo composed a COVID-19 Task Force to address how to safely and properly continue the learning experience for the students and a conducive work environment for the faculty and staff. The administration created new rules and regulations that highlighted maintaining students’ safety and security on and around campus. They instituted regulations to inform us about needed steps and procedures to help deter and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The SGA Administration was included on the Task Force and presented invaluable insight from the students’ perspective and addressed concerns about how to best keep the students, faculty/staff, and campus as safe as possible while we all try to persevere during the pandemic.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me, leadership is understanding and owning what it means to do what best benefits those you represent. Throughout my tenure as SGA president, I have taken actions that were not immediately welcomed; nevertheless, I continue to advocate for the student body and the entire Tougaloo community. A true leader is not in the fight for themselves but instead fights for all. Until we are all free, none of us are free.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2021?
I believe that schools should enhance their social media presence to attract more students in 2021. In this day and age, the way to reach mass groups of diverse students is through social media platforms. That means utilizing Instagram and Twitter campaigns, Youtube ads, and having a captivating, sleek, and easy to navigate website.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
Watch the Yard is important to Black students because it exemplifies diversity within the Black Greek-Letter Organizations. A valuable life lesson I attained at Tougaloo College is that “being Black is not a monolith.” Additionally, Watch the Yard has a great social media influence which inspires children at a young age to attend college, preferably an HBCU, but college nonetheless. It is important that we keep these beacons of hope shining within our community and that we keep producing positive role models with whom the younger generations and our peers can relate and admire.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
I have yet to solidify my plans after graduation. I expect to enter the workforce and begin my working career. At the same time, I would love to participate with or work for an agency that propagates any form of activism, advocacy, and/or community education. I respect those, like my school, who had a footprint in the Civil Rights Movement. I aspire to inspire all people by contributing to the further advancement of Black people.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend A’mon Haynes for his work as the SGA president of Tougaloo College.