Greatest Achievements as a Student Leader

Brooks Raiford discusses what he considers to be his greatest accomplishments as a student leader including the professionalization of Student Government.

Interview on 2012-04-27


00:00:00.000 Well, in my role in student government
00:00:03.566 I would say we really professionalized the office of student government,
00:00:06.929 ran it more like a business, more like a professional office
00:00:10.504 and not a bunch of volunteer kids who had this cool assignment.
00:00:13.945 We did some things as simple as
00:00:18.258 making sure that our materials and the legislation that was considered by the senate and so on
00:00:24.729 was prepared in a professional, businesslike way.
00:00:27.511 We went downtown and got copies of North Carolina legislation
00:00:32.505 and how it was presented and prepared and copied that model,
00:00:35.868 modeled our material after that.
00:00:37.996 So in those ways I think there was some professionalization of the office.
00:00:40.980 I think too that I remember being very consciously aware at the time
00:00:46.117 that I, and we, would be taken more seriously if we showed up
00:00:51.137 to meetings with administrators with insightful, well-thought-out points of view
00:00:58.924 and solution options on the table that we had done some research on
00:01:03.078 than just coming and complaining or focusing on,
00:01:06.721 gee, we want more tickets at the ballgame. I mean that's maybe important but it's not-. They hear that all the time.
00:01:11.906 If we were seen as more of an ally and a partner
00:01:14.816 but still an advocate we could probably get more done in a shorter span of time
00:01:19.711 that would be more meaningful, so that was a mindset that we really tried to create
00:01:23.988 and I think did in that period of time.
00:01:26.475 Long term for me, being one of the founders of my chapter of Phi Delta Theta here-which it is a national fraternity,
00:01:34.227 it just didn't exist here, so it existed already in other places.
00:01:38.209 I've remained involved with that organization now for twenty years.
00:01:42.289 I still chair the corporation that owns and operates the fraternity house;
00:01:46.260 I'm an advisor as a result to the students; I get to know the student leadership of that chapter every year.
00:01:51.463 That's very invigorating because it's a new crop all the time,
00:01:56.406 they go through some of the same challenges and have some of the same issues, but it's always impressive what students do
00:02:04.273 and how smart they are and how innovative and entrepreneurial they are.
00:02:07.911 So that activity has probably been the most constant touch point I've had, or consistent touch point I've had, over the last twenty years,
00:02:17.460 but similarly I serve on the Park Scholarship review committee,
00:02:21.369 I'm on the board of the college of humanities and social sciences and will be president of that board this coming year and a half,
00:02:27.060 and those are other areas where I'm engaged with faculty and staff and students
00:02:32.818 in a fresh way all the time and really see amazing things.
00:02:38.340 Just today, when I parked near here and walked across half our campus to get to this building,
00:02:42.976 as I looked around and saw students and overheard conversations
00:02:47.988 and just sort of witnessed what was going on, it's really a refreshing experience
00:02:52.360 to come back to the campus because you do get set in your mind's eye what it was like when you were here.
00:02:57.439 I have the advantage of being nearby so I can come more often than I do.
00:03:02.465 Often now when I have meetings on campus it's at certain regular places, I'm not really walking around the main campus,
00:03:09.179 and I should do that more. But all that ties back into,
00:03:13.291 in terms of achievements or things I'm most satisfied about,
00:03:16.816 it was being very engaged in the campus. For me it became a small place
00:03:21.201 and I felt like I had a finger in a lot of different areas on campus
00:03:25.749 such that I had a really wholesome and fulfilled experience here,
00:03:30.777 a full experience here. As a result ever since then
00:03:36.021 I've felt very connected to the campus, I bring with me a lot of relationships, a lot of familiarity with the structure that serves me well in my job,
00:03:44.219 it serves me well in areas where I want to volunteer,
00:03:47.705 it makes me feel closer to the institution,
00:03:50.613 and so in all those ways I think that things I was able to do while here
00:03:54.999 allowed all that to happen,
00:03:57.577 so it's been an ongoing benefit.