Leaving a legacy: Life as Eastern’s first Black female student body president


Madelyn Kidd, News Editor

Eastern’s first Black female student body president, Jacqueline Williams, represents students of color, diversity on campus and change for the history of Eastern’s Student Senate.

For Williams, being the first Black female student body president means everything to her.

“To be the first EIU African American female president means everything to me,” Williams said. “Attending a [predominantly white institution] is very challenging for EIU students of color to transition, find their niche or achieve the student representation and recognition that other EIU students may receive. To hold this student leader role, duties and position is unbelievable.”

Williams also commented on the mark in history she is leaving at Eastern.

“It seems so unreal, that I have made my mark and history at EIU that only a few EIU students will ever attain in their time at EIU,” Williams said. “I hope that my achievement will become an inspiration to African American girls just like me and show them ‘Yes you can achieve anything you set your heart and mind to achieve.’ It seems surreal, but I am truly thankful and blessed to have held this position.”

Before Williams was elected as the student body president, she had joined the Student Senate to be involved with Eastern, to help students of color be heard and represented on campus and to encourage others.

“Not only am I honored to be the first African American female EIU student body president, but it is also historical achievements like this that I hope my example will set the tone for other EIU students of color to strive for in making their own history at EIU,” Williams said.

When Williams first found out she was elected student body president, she couldn’t believe the announcement and is proud to be a part of Eastern’s and the Student Senate’s history.

“This was truly a moment in history for both EIU and the EIU student body to be elected as the first EIU African American female student body president in a long line of EIU female student body presidents through the years,” Williams said. “I am so proud to be first, but certainly not the last to reach this milestone as an EIU student and student leader in the future.”

Along with being the student body president, Williams is also the treasurer of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and has to schedule her time accordingly while holding both positions.

“Serving in both roles can at times be both demanding and challenging to balance, considering I don’t really have a lot of downtime,” Williams said. “Making sure that I am a good time manager and making sure that my time is used wisely and efficiently is the only way I stay afloat.”

However as the student body president, Williams found herself in a role with an opportunity to represent the National Pan-Hellenic Council, NPHC, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

“I feel that I give my Sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and NPHC Greek community great representation in the EIU Student Government, as members of the Greek community are often serving in major leadership roles across campus,” Williams said. “Even though I do not update the senate with every event that my sorority and NPHC put together, I do continuously encourage Student Senators to get involved and find the events that cater and represent and impact EIU students, especially mentally.”

Being both in Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Student Senate means “the world” to Williams.

“I think that Delta is the first of many, and that has made me want to strive and be the first in my community (the Charleston/Mattoon Area),” Williams said. “I think I’m surrounding myself with great leaders in the Theta Zeta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and that is what pushes me to be the best version of myself every day.”

As president, Williams is involved with various committees and projects on campus.

“As the elected EIU student body president, I am held to higher standards of excellence, empowered to make executive decisions and take executive action on behalf of the EIU student body,” Williams said. “I serve as an advocate on behalf of the EIU student body to the EIU Administration in university functions, issues and matters.”

Williams is on the University Planning & Budgeting Committee, helps plan the EIU First Night event, is working on a Freshman Leadership Initiative, Panther Tracks, mental health awareness initiatives and a co-curricular transcript, which would add extracurriculars to academic transcripts.

Williams said her favorite part of being the student body president is representing Eastern students and having an impact on student’s lives.

“My favorite part of being the EIU student body president is representing my fellow EIU students and making decisions that have a positive impact on their lives and experiences at EIU,” Williams said. “In addition, I enjoy meeting and getting to know EIU students from all walks of life… Currently, I am proud of being a member of the EIU Student Government that is the ‘most’ diverse it has been in years, with EIU students from all races, cultures, genders and backgrounds exchanging diverse ideas, issues and programs on behalf of the EIU student community.”


Madelyn Kidd can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]