Jamal Ross will serve as the next Board of Visitors Undergraduate Representative

The Kellogg Center for Philosophy, Politics, and Economics is pleased to share the news that Jamal Ross will serve as the new Board of Visitors Undergraduate Representative next academic year.

Jamal, tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Jamal D. Ross and I am a current third-year student at Virginia Tech. I am pursuing a dual degree in Political Science (Legal Studies Option) and PPE. I am a member of various organizations around campus including the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences Ambassadors, Phi Alpha Delta (Pre-Law Fraternity), Student Alumni Associates, Hokie Ambassadors, the Black Student Alliance, and Black Organizations Council. I was recently selected as Director of Arts and Culture in Black Student Alliance, Philanthropy/Fundraising Chair in Black Organizations Council, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Ambassador, and Phi Sigma Alpha (Political Science Honor Society). During my time at Virginia Tech, I have gotten involved with research during the academic year which has allowed me to work with the State Department and the Applied Economics Department at Virginia Tech. I am currently on a semester-long study abroad program with the Virginia Tech Honors College (Presidential Global Scholars) in Riva San Vitale, Switzerland, and will be embarking on the Virginia Tech Perspectives Trip to Israel with Hillel at VT in the month of May.

You’ve been selected to serve as the Undergraduate Student Representative to the Board of Visitors next academic year. Can you tell us what duties you will have under this role?

The Board of Visitors Undergraduate Representative, by definition, is “Student Representatives are given a unique perspective of the university’s governance structure, financial and administrative operations, strategic initiatives, and decision-making at the highest level. With this privileged insight comes an obligation to integrate individual and collective student perspectives into the long-term, strategic goals of the university.” This means I will be working directly with the administration to complete certain duties but also have a focus on the student body. Some duties include working with and being an active member of the President’s Advisory board, University Council, Order of the Gavel, and more. My focus during my time serving the Virginia Tech undergraduate student body is heavily on representation. Communication and transparency between the undergraduate and the Board of Visitors is something I want to create and allow for constant understanding to be achieved. I want to place my main focus on the mental health of the undergraduate body, food insecurity, safety, and especially diversity and inclusion.

How did you become aware of this opportunity and what made you interested in applying for it?

I found out about this role during my sophomore year at Virginia Tech. I have always enjoyed being involved with students and within the governance realm of the university. Being able to work directly with students and have a takeaway that allows me to grow from the situation is something that fuels my desire to be a student leader. I came across this position when I asked myself “What can I do to be involved on campus during my time at Virginia Tech that would allow me to be a direct mentor and have a positive influence on my peers and fellow Hokies?”. I can proudly say I have found it within the role of the Board of Visitors Undergraduate Representative! I wanted something that would guide me in a way like no other and learn new skills while allowing me to be a voice, but also have those interactions I can have a learning moment and positive takeaway from.

In what ways do you think your educational background in PPE and Political Science, and/or your experiences at VT, will best serve you in this role?

My background in PSCI and PPE has allowed me to flourish in different capacities and roles I hold on and off campus. I think the educational gain and meaningful connections I have made during my time here at Virginia Tech within these departments have allowed me to dive deeper into what intrigues me and prepared me well for what is to come in the future. Being able to connect the different classes and discussions to different experiences provided by PSCI and PPE has been such a delight. The opportunities they have provided me in my education here at Virginia Tech have been immense and I believe this is something important to acknowledge as I prepare for a role within the university’s government. From faculty, deans, and academic advisors I want to say THANK YOU for shaping me into the Hokie I am today! Reflecting on different experiences at VT, I think of my roles with VTHRL as a resident advisor of with the office of NSFP as an orientation leader. These leadership roles allowed me to make deep connections and expand my network with fellow Hokies that I could have never imagined. Being able to work directly with prospective, current, and alumni have provided me with the opportunity to grow from conversations, and be able to look forward to my role as the 2022-23 BOV undergraduate representative.

What excites you the most regarding this position?

I look forward to connecting more in-depth with the student body! Something I want to provide is not a middle man perspective, but a gateway or “connection” point between the student body of Virginia Tech and the Board of Visitors; working hand-in-hand to come up with solutions to the concerns of my fellow Hokies. I want to reach out directly to fellow student leaders and organizations to see their perspectives on the climate of the university and use these tools to better address the Board and bring about change. I like to say, “Even one small step is a BIG step for what is to come!” Taking time to start from the ground up and work to see the bigger picture is going to provide me with the best outcome. Seeing how conversations with students can be a change agent for years to come is something I am looking forward to.

What words of advice would you have for other students who would like to get involved in a similar role?

If I can do it, you can do it! If you fall down five times, get up 6 times, and never quit! I would recommend reaching out to an individual in the role you are interested in and asking them questions about the role. Even if it is a simple introduction, that means something to them and allows you to start building your network. I always tell others to believe in themselves and try new opportunities. Being able to be in a role such as the BOV Undergraduate Representative comes with great responsibility and it is something I will always cherish and am thankful for – to be able to exert Ut Prosim in this capacity. Being able to see the current and past representatives’ goals has provided me with a way to see what I want to pursue during my term. I also would like to advise students to get involved with something they love. Find the thing, or things, that keep you on your toes and bring you joy, but also challenge you whether it be mentally or physically.

What are your post-graduation plans and career goals?

After graduation, I would like to pursue a Master’s and/or Ph. D program in Higher Education. With this knowledge and experience, I want to then go on to law school and ultimately become a federal judge or a law professor. I have always been interested in law and have found a spark of joy within the legal realm, but as I have gotten more involved with different roles within the university setting, I would like to further that and gain more experience and see where it takes me.

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