May/June Bulletin cover
Volume 83 | Issue 3
May 2015

Student Profile: Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr., Virginia Commonwealth University

saidu tejan-thomas jr.Major: Mass Communications, Public Relations

Leadership Positions: Resident Assistant, President of Good Clear Sound, Mentor

Why do you choose to be involved as a student leader?
I often don’t have intentions of being a student leader. I worry too much about the success of the teams I am involved with to continuously assume leadership positions. Instead, I am versatile enough to either lead or be led if it means it will ensure the goals of the team. I believe a true student leader knows what is needed of each member and when, and if that means propping up someone else instead of myself, then I am always ready to do so. Ultimately, I choose to be a student leader because I want to see my peers succeed as much as I want to succeed. I enjoy the satisfaction of completing projects and knowing the team did everything in its power to produce the best work possible.

What are your career goals?
I have made tremendous strides in finding my passion—my public relations major, my taking up of acting and poetry—and these possible vocations have given me valuable skills I can use in any field I choose post-graduation.

What is one project you are proud to have helped implement on campus?

As a part of the inaugural class of VCU’s ASPiRE program, I was given the opportunity to work in disadvantaged neighborhoods in Richmond, Va., for two years. I mentored high school and elementary school children and did various volunteer work in the city’s housing projects. I got a firsthand glimpse into the struggles of some Richmond natives, such as how just down the street from my expensive university, children were attending schools with libraries that had fewer than five books to a shelf. As one of the first graduates of the program, I helped form lasting relationships with community partners in the city of Richmond. Since then, ASPiRE has continued to offer students a holistic perspective of Richmond and has been a wellspring of student volunteers for the community.

What has been most helpful to you as a student leader?

Time management and good friends have been most helpful to me as a student leader. My busy schedule forces me to keep a calendar, and that helps me greatly; organization helps me keep from stress—and my friends have also been invaluable in helping me de-stress. I make time to see them throughout the week so I can blow off steam by playing basketball, lifting weights, or writing and listening to poetry.

What have you learned about leadership through your work with others on campus?
About leadership, I have learned the importance of being an example. People approach me every day to either compliment me on my courage because they had watched me recite a poem or to talk to me about their issues because they trust me as a friend and an RA. I believe that by carrying myself in a positive light and being both strong and vulnerable, I give others permission to do the same in their lives.

What is your most memorable ACUI experience?

The College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational has by far been my favorite ACUI memory. The yearly trip to convene with poets from around the world has been like a family reunion for me the past three years. I have grown to love the environment ACUI creates for people who have urgent messages and awesome personalities. I thank ACUI for starting the competition, and I hope to continue to be a part of the event even after I graduate.