Even before Sujae Boswell won the University of the West Indies’ guild elections, he was already busy helping students to navigate the new challenges that the coronavirus pandemic brought on.
Boswell and his team created a platform to support students who needed help with online learning.
“We recognised that students needed academic support, so we launched a Pelican Academic support system to assist students during this time in remote learning,” he said.
He also tried to assist students who would normally go on work on travel programmes. “We also recognised students with work and travel, we had consultations with some legal team to give students advice as to what would be the best approach now in terms of their contractual arrangements,” he said.
These initiatives, topped with relentless online campaigning, allowed Boswell to emerge winner of the guild’s first ever online elections on Wednesday, June 3, winning by more than 1,200 votes. Boswell received 3,271 votes, to challenger Gabriela Morris’ 2,068 votes.
Now officially in the presidential seat, Boswell, who is pursuing a Master’s degree in International, Public, and Development Management, is ready to get to work. His first task, he told BUZZ, will be advocating for a mixed learning modality.
“We’re in a pandemic, and one of the things I’ve recognised readily is that there are students who wish to continue online learning, and there are students who wish to have face to face learning. So going forward what we’ll have to be looking at is what modalities of learning we’ll employ.
What that means for me is that we’ll be looking at the mixed blend approach, and how the face to face as well online learning can become a part of the institutionalised teaching going forward,” he said.
Boswell said he’ll also be working to ensure that his campaign promises of a guild website where students can anonymously lodge complaints, better security on campus, and more transportation options for students are fulfilled. He said he’ll also be working on mentorship programme for female students which will give them the same mentorship opportunities afforded to male students.
“The idea is to have professional women working in the fields mentor our ladies on campus. One of the things I find is that there is a greater mentorship system for male students, even if it’s not formalized. You’ll find that men would mentor men more readily. And so the idea is to create that avenue so all the ladies on campus would be able to benefit,” he said.
The former Munro College student and National Secondary Students’ Council president, started his leadership journey as junior president of a Police Youth Club in his community of Hendon, Norwood in Montego Bay. He became involved in the club after being encouraged by a friend to stay away from gangs.
“He was in a gang and he saw the things that were going on in a gang, and told me not be part of any. He was killed after I started Munro. That motivated me to start a club, that was my first real experience of leadership. I was the junior president and would organise football matches in the community across the different communities. We recognised that we never really knew each other and that kinda contributed to why we had so much animosity,” he said.
And while he explained that he will always be willing and ready to serve his country, he’s focused on what’s in front of him for now.
“For now, I’m not so focused on a political journey, I’m just focused on the campus space, and serving the campus in the best way I can,” he said.