When SGA President Katie Clark felt the student body could experience division following the results of the presidential election, she took it upon herself to address the issue.
“I ask that we all try to the best of our abilities to stay united as a university, to be accepting of each other, and to remember that here at VCU,” Clark said. “We are an inclusive university who respects all of our fellow students, faculty and staff.”
It may have been a small gesture, but it serves as an example of the kind of responsive leadership Clark is all about as the student body representative. The same could be said of the SGA’s second-in-charge, Vice President Kedji Abazi.
Clark, who is a senior and is studying supply chain management and analytics and Abazi, a junior and is studying health, physical education and exercise science were elected by the student body in a nail biting election in which the victors weren’t announced for weeks.
In April, the pair told the Commonwealth Times that they promised to bring a more inclusive student government and to bring change to the organization — although they may not have envisioned a change as expansive as the one they’re about to herald.
Earlier this month, SGA announced the Monroe Park campus and the VCU Health campuses are working towards a resolution that would merge the student governments into one umbrella organization.
Clark said the resolution would streamline the organization’s resources to better serve the student body’s concerns.
“It would just be more productive to have one meeting or one place where representatives from both campuses can collectively talk about the issues their students are passionate about,” Clark said.
They both have been involved in SGA for three years, Clark started off as a sophomore after transferring to VCU and Abazi as a freshman. Clark has served as a delegate, senator, Vice Chair of Membership Committee, Chair of Membership Committee and now as president. Abazi has served as a senator, Chair of External Affairs, Chair of Senate and now as Vice President.
“I have always thought of myself as a leader,” Abazi said. “I can actually do something to help, it empowers us that our peers believe in us, respect us and want us to succeed.”
Clark and Abazi have to constantly make decisions that will then represent and affect thousands of students. This kind of responsibility is not easy to handle, but luckily both Clark and Abazi take the necessary time to weigh each possibility.
“I always need a minute to take in the situation,” Clark said. “I start brainstorming realistic options and make sure they align with my personal values, the purpose of SGA and the school. I take into consideration who is affected by it. I live for feedback. I am only one person, I only represent one demographic. But the last thing is standing by your decision.”
Making the right decision all the time can be hard, but according to SGA advisor
LaDarius D Thompson, Clark and Abazi have what it takes to make the right call.
“Katie and Kejdi both have a great and strong work ethic,” Thompson said. “You can see the values of honesty, personal integrity, diversity and inclusion, and teamwork play out in their everyday work with MPC SGA. They both display the same values of their work ethic in their leadership skills.”
Their roles are not always easy to fulfill at times, making them choose between a personal life and a professional life.
“It can be isolating at times,” Clark said. “No one knows all the work that goes in. It is hard for friends to understand, but I’ve learned how to balance the two.”
Even though there are hard times, both Clark and Abazi agree that the good times outweigh the hard and that both roles are very rewarding.
“It’s been a journey to learn about who you are as a person, leader and community member,” Clark said. “I get to meet different people, learn why they came to VCU and what their experience has been like.”
Clark and Abazi have been successful in their roles and made vast improvements for not only SGA but VCU.
“They have already started making her story as the first all-female leadership team of MPC SGA,” Thompson said. “They are working really hard to improve the communication and transparency of MPC SGA not only internally but externally to the VCU communities as well.”
The two leaders are grateful for the opportunity to represent their student body and improve the quality of student life at VCU.
“It is important for students to realize we do this to give back to the school that has provided so much for us,” Abazi said. “This is our thing; some play basketball, and some are in SGA. There is so much passion from everyone and we put so much work in.”
Hannah Parker, Contributing Writer