Now over halfway through her yearlong term as president of MTSU’s Student Government Association, senior Jada Powell finds herself balancing the completion of her campaign goals with thoughts of the association’s, and her own, future as graduation and the end of her term hover just over the horizon.
“Unfortunately, I cannot stay here at MTSU forever,” said Powell, who will earn her degree in aviation management from the Departmen of Aerospace this May. “My final semester goals now include ensuring that the generations after me are prepared for the future of the SGA.”
Before winning election to the prestigious position last year, Powell started her SGA journey as secretary of the freshman council.
“The SGA was actually the first organization I joined on campus,” said the Memphis, Tennessee native, who soon joined multiple other campus groups. “Sophomore year I did my first campaign for a senate seat in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences, and I won. Junior year I took a major step up and ran for executive vice president after getting advice and support from a lot of upperclassmen.”
Powell said the vice president position really pushed her out of her comfort zone.
“It involved managing almost 100 students,” Powell said. “I was meeting with senators inside their respective committees and the freshmen council to review any legislation they wanted to pass, plan events, log service hours and more.”
The high-demand role made her confident to campaign for the top spot the following year.
“I ended up deciding, ‘Jada, let’s go ahead and run for president,’ and here I am today.”
Powell said balancing her presidential responsibilities with her studies, involvement with other organizations and new job at Southwest Airlines requires “a lot of personal planners and calendars” — both digital and paper — that she updates often.
“I (also) keep up transparent communication with my professors and other organizations where I am an active member,” Powell said. “I had to realize that I cannot attend everything, so I have to make a few sacrifices to ensure that I am doing what is best for me, the SGA and all my future goals.”
Powell campaigned on providing students with more opportunities for greater involvement on campus and fostering a greater connection among the Blue Raider community.
“College is so much more than going to class and going back home, so I wanted to ensure that all students felt a sense of belonging here at MTSU, especially after years of remote learning and social distancing” necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, she said. “The SGA executive board has done a phenomenal job with promoting the student government on campus, and we have worked hard to promote events from other student organizations, too, just to get students informed about and attracted to all the events campus has to offer.”
After graduation, Powell plans to advance at Southwest to become a network planning specialist. As for a future in politics, Powell does not discount the idea.
“I wouldn’t mind being in politics on a local level, but nationally, there would have to be a lot of changes and more opportunities to better the U.S. for me to be interested,” Powell said.
Powell credited several faculty members for supporting her during her SGA experience.
“Dr. Danny Kelley, Dr. Deb Sells, Mrs. Tamika Mitchell, Ms. Brelinda Johnson and Mr. Travis Strattion all have one thing in common: they care about the students at MTSU,” Powell said. “They allowed me to realize that students’ voices are more powerful than we can even imagine. We are literally the body of water that keeps the university afloat. Therefore, we must be a voice if we feel like something is not right or should be done differently.”
Kelley, assistant vice president for the Division of Student Affairs and SGA advisor, said Powell’s organization, campus involvement and care for students have been her greatest strengths.
“I have (also) seen Jada grow to become a much more confident speaker at the many engagements she has been requested to speak at,” Kelley said. “She’s better at having tough conversations with those who are not following through on their assignments and holding them accountable.”
Kelley said the SGA is always looking for more students like Powell who care about MTSU, want to make a positive difference in the lives of students and are willing and able to put in the necessary time it requires.
“It is the only body on campus that represents the students and their concerns,” Kelley said. “It’s a great opportunity to act on that behalf and grow as an individual with more skills for the future.”
To learn more about the Student Government Association, visit the website at www.mtsu.edu/sga.
— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu)