Two years ago, you gave me the opportunity of a lifetime. As a sophomore from Little Rock, Arkansas, who was still trying to figure out who she was and where she belonged, you believed in me when you elected me to be vice president of the Student Government Association. Over the past two years, I had the time of my life. From the protests to the town halls, to the parades, to the conversations in my office, to these last few weeks where the end is closer than the beginning.
In two years, we changed the culture of the campus, created organizations and departments through our activism and redefined what student leadership means. Although I will no longer be on campus, know that the University of Memphis has changed my life in a way that words could not begin to illustrate. It has truly been my pleasure and honor to serve as the vice president from 2017 to 2018 and president from 2018 to 2019 of the SGA. When you look back at the work my administration and I accomplished, I hope that you will see that our desire to serve you was our primary goal, and that no matter how many times we failed, we knew that our biggest win was grounded in your approval and satisfaction.
Although my term has come to an end, the fight is never over. I challenge you to pick up the torch and continue the fight on behalf of your peers, your friends and your mentees. Remember that your legacy is not defined by what you do, but by the lives you impact and the space you create for individuals who don’t look like you, talk like you or have the same privileges you do. We’ve spent so much time identifying the problems with our environments, but very rarely do we challenge those issues and advocate for ourselves and others with the same energy. I hope that in my absence, the student voice will be amplified in a way that Memphis cannot ignore. I hope that you all are able contribute your unique gifts to the large pool of talent at the university and that your voice is not lost in the idea of tradition and the concept that change must happen in a certain way. And most of all, I hope you enjoy your time at the UofM and remember not everything you learn will be from the classroom.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve and the ability to prove my love for the university and my peers through advocacy and representing on your behalf. Don’t see this as a farewell but simply a “see you later.”
Kevyanna L. Rawls