With over 160 student organizations on campus, there are many students who hold the title of president. However, senior communication studies major Sade Govan-Smith is president of not just one organization, but three.
Her presidential titles are for the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., the National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Additionally, Smith also works for Residential Student Services (RSS) as a community assistant in Sozio Hall.
Sigma Gamma Rho was founded in 1922, with a mission of serving the public and promoting both leadership and the importance of education. On top of her duties as president in Sigma Gamma Rho, Smith also holds the seat of the vice president. Therefore, she has to fulfill twice the responsibilities. She said that she selected this sorority after being touched by the people and premise of the organization.
“I didn’t have to change who I was to be in this organization because the organization was founded on three main principles, which are sisterhood, scholarship and service. And the women I’ve encountered when I was interested, have embodied all three of those principles and I just felt in line with them,” Smith said. “I fell in love with the organization, how and why it was founded, and it’s just different than all the other organizations that were on campus.”
The National Pan-Hellenic Council is an organization dedicated to developing unity between Greek organizations, while the recently chartered National Council of Negro Women focuses on empowering and elevating African American women. In all of her organizations, Smith’s duties vary from planning events to making connections.
“I’m in charge of booking programs, making sure everything runs smoothly, reaching out to other organizations to see if they want to collaborate, networking and just basically putting my organizations out there. [I also make] make sure that we have a good name and that we’re represented well,” Smith said.
A common theme between all of the pursuits of these student groups is the empowerment and protection of women, which Smith has grown a passion for.
“I feel like a lot of people feel like women, especially African American women, cannot be strong. Especially with NCNW, that organization is founded for Negro women. This organization is designed for women who hurt like us and are afraid to speak, women who’ve been sexually abused, whatever the case may be. Being that outlet with my organization just makes me feel good that people can come to me.”
Smith transferred from Union County College with an associate degree in hospitality and culinary arts to Kean in 2015 as a global business major. She then switched over to communication studies and hopes to apply this brand of education to her dreams of owning a bed and breakfast in Atlanta, Georgia.
“A bed and breakfast is like a hotel but smaller, so I can cater to a small crowd, and that’s why I wanted to do it,” Smith said. “I feel like communications can tie into me having a bed and breakfast because you have to learn how to talk. You have to learn how to deal with people of all ages, all races.”
Smith’s passion for hospitality was born when she moved to Florida for seven months to work for Disney World as part of the Disney College Program, an opportunity that allows students to work for and live near a Disney park for a period of time while simultaneously taking classes.
“I was a housekeeper. It was not my first choice, but I feel like you have start off somewhere. You have to start off at the back of the house and I wanted to work in hotels,” Smith said.
Despite not being completely satisfied with her given position, her time with the program opened her eyes to the joys of catering the people for a living.
“Disney World is the biggest hospitality company in the world and I just fell in love with serving people,“ Smith said. “The experience of having Disney on my resume looks really, really good.”
Overall, Smith believes she has gained much from her experiences both inside and outside of Kean.
Smith said that she has gained a lot from her experience at Kean. She has gotten to know people from different backgrounds and has learned not to be so judgmental. Her experience has also made her more soft-spoken and motherly.
For the remainder of her college years and everything that comes afterward, Smith will remain a force of leadership and unity, as well as uphold her strong ideals of public service.