MTSU student makes history with SGA post
By CHASITY GUNN
— Chasity Gunn, 615-278-5109
Being the first is something that just happens to be for 21-year-old Sondra Wilson.
The Spring Hill native was the first student in Tennessee to sit on the state Board of Regents and the state Higher Education Commission.
And this year, the rising senior was elected MTSU's first African-American female president of the Student Government Association.
"I'm glad that I can set a precedent," said Wilson, a political science major.
Half of university SGAs are led by women, according to Butch Oxendine Jr., executive director of the American Student Government Association.
But even fewer are led by African Americans — men or women.
"About 10 percent of all SGAs are led by African Americans," Oxendine said.
He said the face of SGA presidents is changing as student bodies and culture are changing. SGA presidents are starting to reflect their student bodies.
"It shows that there are fewer barriers," Oxendine explained.
Founded in 1911, MTSU is the oldest public university in the state and has the largest undergraduate population at 22,000-plus students.
"It's an accomplishment that our campus is that open to embrace an African- American female as SGA president," said Charles Avent, president of the African- American Student Association for this past school term. "It speaks volumes for our campus."
Wilson was sworn into office on April 21. Chassen Haynes is her predecessor.
She hopes to unify the student body and increase student participation in campus activities and athletic events.
"I think it all starts with visibility," Wilson said. "Hopefully, they will see with unification our campus will be so much better."
Many students go home on the weekends or are commuters, which presents a challenge to unifying the student body.
Wilson said she hasn't faced any obstacles as a result of being black or a female leader, but she knows such obstacles exist.
She said, "Fortunately by the grace of God, I've been blessed to put those things aside."