Tomorrow's Leaders: Student Government Presidents Speak out. (Special Section on Historically Black Colleges and Universities)

Ebony, September 2002 | Go to article overview

Tomorrow's Leaders: Student Government Presidents Speak out. (Special Section on Historically Black Colleges and Universities)


A future female president of the United States, a future president of the NAACP, mayors of Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., a congressman from Alabama and the first Black governor of Louisiana, assorted doctors, lawyers, a minister or two, a federal court judge and a psychologist. These HBCU student government presidents (SGA) have big dreams, big goals and although they may seem idealistic to the general public, they have a plan to make their dream come true.

Many of these 11 historically Black college student government presidents have already defied the odds by becoming the first of their families to attend college. Some are older than the traditional college student because they have already served in the military. These students have tasted real life and they are hungry for more. They tip their hat to the ancestors, proud of the legacy they accomplished, but eager to make their mark on the world.

Not intimidated by 9/11 or a rising tide of conservatism, these young students don't plan to let life's inevitable storms leave them stranded on shore.

Like a tree planted by the water, these dreamers will not be moved.

ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY

LANADA NICOLE COOPER

HOMETOWN: ST. LOUIS

MAJOR: PSYCHOLOGY

GOAL: I plan to pursue my master's and Ph.D. in clinical psychology. I plan to open up a wellness center to cater to the psychological needs of African-American people--incorporating the holistic arts and also have a dietician there to help lift our depression. A lot of us have a taboo thing about therapy. I would call myself a "wellness specialist" instead of therapist.

HERO: I really admire my mother and my father, Phillip and Deborah Cooper.

FAVORITE AUTHORS: Toni Morrison, Sapphire, Zora Neale Hurston and Terry McMillan

FAVORITE ENTERTAINERS: Bill Cosby and Phylicia Rashad

HOBBIES: African Dance, listening to poetry, traveling, organizing and executing plans.

AGE: 22

FUTURE: I'm definitely optimistic about my future. I don't feel helpless. I feel that whatever is in my grasp, I can do it! There is a great divine plan out there for me, I know it, and I look forward to whatever comes my way. I'm optimistic about the future of African-Americans. The game has changed for us. Each decade we see a different style of racism or oppression. Even though physically we are not bound, we're still in a state of institutional racism. If you think that we've arrived and there is no more work to do, then something is wrong. We need to get together and patronize our HBCUs. We've come a long way, but there is still work to be done.

HAMPTON UNIVERSITY

LINDELL C. TOOMBS JR.

HOMETOWN: Newport News, Va.

MAJOR: Political Science

GOAL: I'm a licensed minister right now and working on ordination later this fall. I'm hoping to get my master's in divinity and my law degree at the same time. I would like to run for public office someday. I think it's very important to be civic-minded.

HERO: My parents, Beatrice & Lindell Toombs Sr.

FAVORITE AUTHORS: Maya Angelou & Michael Moore

FAVORITE ENTERTAINER: Richard Smallwood

HOBBIES: I like to read, play chess, e-mail, get involved in my community.

AGE: 20

FUTURE I'm optimistic. I think a lot of attitudes are changing. My personal future is in the Lord's hands and I'm confident it will work out. For the future of African-Americans, we have a lot of complacent people, but for the right cause we can mobilize and do the right thing. If we can get the grassroots support, we can be effective.

HOWARD UNIVERSITY

CORNELL R. WlLLIAMSON

HOMETOWN: Newark, N.J.

MAJOR: Legal Communications

GOAL: I intend to go to law school and eventually to sit on the federal court bench.

HERO: My father, Fred Williamson

FAVORITE AUTHOR: Cornel West

FAVORITE ENTERTAINER: Denzel Washington

HOBBIES: I like to debate. …

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