In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Middle Tennessee State University and did an interview with Jada K. Powell 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. Powell, who is majoring in Aerospace, is from Memphis, TN. She is a proud Spring 2021 initiate of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
We interviewed Jada Powell, 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?
As a SGA President, so far, the biggest thing that I have learned is the communication and patience are the key to success. Being a Black woman at a PWI and serving as SGA President, I have to be understanding that everyone does not communicate or interpret a situation like I would. As far as patience, every campus has its issues. That is a given fact! However, it is how you deal with the issues and tribulations that are thrown your way. Going into my senior year, we still have issues from my freshman year, yet I have to be more aware of our past issues and the current issues that first semester freshmen are bringing to my attention. Additionally, being patient is so important because it reminds me that change cannot happen overnight.
What made you decide to attend Middle Tennessee State University for undergrad?
My decision for choosing Middle Tennessee State University for my undergraduate career is due to our stellar aviation/aerospace program. I have a true and genuine love and passion for aviation. Coming in to MTSU in the fall of 2019, I had aspirations of being an air traffic controller; however, our program was removed due to lack of funding. However, my backup plan has always been aviation management. Right now, I am in my capstone for aviation management, and I am honestly having the time of my life.
How has Middle Tennessee State University molded you into the person you are today?
MTSU has molded me into the person that I am today because they taught me that despite my environment and my skin complexion, I can do whatever I set my mind to. Granted, I learned this as a child being involved with Girls Inc. of Memphis, Bridge Builders, and The Memphis Archonette Club, but coming to college and learning that on my own is different. Memphis is a predominately Black city whereas my university is, literally, in the middle of Tennessee about 45 minutes outside of Nashville. My university and my college town is extremely diverse so being able to beat the odds and break barriers really mean a lot to me.
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?
To improve my university, a major incentive that I just finalized is hosting SGA Nights with every athletic department on campus. Our university’s main issue and my entire campaign highlighted increasing student involvement and engagement. During my freshman year, oh, campus was lit! However, as we are slowly coming out of the pandemic, it has been a challenge to get students to participate in campus events. With our athletics department on a rise, I think hosting SGA Nights will be beneficial as it allows our student body to interact with SGA members and address their concerns about campus so we can meet their needs.
How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?
My university and administration does a phenomenal job with addressing the mental health of students. On a university standpoint, we have Counseling Services and students are able to visit an on campus therapist throughout the semester. Counseling Services also provides a meditation group and L.I.F.E. (Love Inspire Fulfill Encourage) Workshops throughout the semester. For more information regarding Counseling Services, I would encourage you to go to https://mtsu.edu/counseling/index.php.
In regard to my administration, we have Ross Szabo coming to our campus to discuss the importance of suicide prevention. Additionally, MTSU SGA has a transition called Student Appreciation Week. This year, we are working on having a day dedicated to the mental health of our students as we are referring to it as a “Stress Awareness Day”. Right now, we are trying to decide if we want to bring a petting zoo on campus or have a stress free station where we provide students with stress free objects and inform students on the methods of destressing.
What does leadership mean to you?
To me leadership means that an individual is dedicated to serving the community and putting the community before themselves. Leadership is knowing when to step up and when to back. Leadership is understanding that you can’t quit because you have so many people who are looking up to you. Leadership is understanding that you are the change that the world needs.
We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2022/2023?
To represent themselves online, schools need TikTok accounts. I know the administrators of MTSU are so tired of me saying that departments need TikTok accounts; however, it is so true. If student take a social media break, they are going to delete everything except for TikTok because the algorithm of TikTok is designed for them. Alongside, once a student moves from their hometown to their respective university, their algorithm changes a tad bit to adjust to their current location.
Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?
I think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and the college culture because it is a space for students to feel a sense of acceptance. My generation grew up on School Daze, Stomp the Yard, and Love & Basketball. Unfortunately, our expectations of college is not what we thought it was going to be; however, Watch The Yard provides a platform that gives a sense of “maybe college is like how it is on movies”.
What do you plan on doing after graduation?
After college, my goal is to get a job at Delta Air Lines, Inc. just to get my feet wet in the industry. After 5-7 years, I want to move to Atlanta, GA because that is where Delta’s headquarters are located. My long term goal is moving back to Memphis and opening a black owned airline with black pilots, engineers, ticket agents, ramp agents, maintenance crew, etc.
We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Jada Powell for her work as the SGA president of Middle Tennessee State University.