By: Richard Narramore
“I think South is in this space of really embracing change and I think our university SGA president should reflect that,” Sahilee Waitman said. “We’ve only had two female black presidents in 50 plus years, and I am the second one.”
Waitman was recently elected to serve as the SGA president for the 2019-2020 year. The win carries more than meets the eye, however. For Waitman, this win carries emotional heft as she now leads the student body of her late father’s alma mater.
Hailing from the Netherlands, Waitman chose South to feel closer to her father and expressed a sense of surrealness walking the same hallways he once did.
“I wanted to honor him and feel more connected to him,” Waitman said. “As soon as I stepped on to campus, that is what I felt.”
Waitman has an extensive history with SGA, serving as First Year Council president during her Freshman year at South. From there, she moved into an Mitchell College of Business senator seat, which she held for two years while serving as the student affairs chair. Waitman has also found herself serving as a face to USA through ambassador positions and her status as a Southerner.
This collective experience is where Waitman drew the courage to run.
“I was familiarizing myself with our entire campus,” Waitman said. “That was really important.”
In the end, it paid off as Waitman’s web of relationships and experience garnered her enough support for a successful bid. After the announcement of her win, she recalled being overwhelmed with emotions.
“In the beginning, I was in such disbelief,” Waitman said. “But, I am just super excited to get this year started, especially since it was such a tough race. I think everyone caught on to that.”
Now at the forefront of what Waitman is calling a “space of diversity,” she hopes to be a beacon of inspiration for minorities on campus. Waitman recounted the pause she had before bidding for SGA president.
“I want people to know behind this journey was a lot of hesitation,” Waitman said. “There was a lot of hesitation thinking about not being a part of a major organization or I’m not a part of Greek life or am I well known enough. A bunch of things that could have really stopped me from starting this journey. I hope I can inspire other young women to do the same. Most importantly, young black women or women of minorities.”