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Black scholars are displaying excellence in the realm of academia and making history in the process. West Virginia University student Amaya Jernigan recently became the institution’s first Black woman president of the Student Government Association, WVU Today reported.

The appointment is historic as it marks the first time in the school’s 154-year history that a Black woman has been at the helm of the student government. Jernigan—a Maryland native who is majoring in biology—has been dedicated to driving change on campus. The junior, who led the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Eta Omicron Chapter, has spearheaded campus-wide efforts centered on mentorship, culturally competent counseling, and gender-neutral bathrooms; all of which were created to cultivate inclusivity. Jernigan has also served as senator-at-large for the West Virginia University Student Government Association and is an active member of groups that include WVU’s M-Power mentorship program for students of color and Rise WVU; an initiative designed to build an academic community among Black, Latinx and other diverse students.

Jernigan is excited to take on the presidential role and is grateful the student body entrusted her to lead. “I would like to thank every Mountaineer who has made it possible for me to hold this position. I am beyond grateful and will be forever thankful that you all were brave enough to pave the way for me,” she said in a statement. “Hunter and I, as well as everyone else elected today, have been asked to bring change to campus. We won’t let you down. We have to be the change we seek, and the ‘ACTION’ starts today.” Jernigan is slated to officially step into the role during the 2021-2022 academic year. Hunter Moore, a junior at WVU who is majoring in mechanical and aerospace engineering, will serve as vice president.

News about Jernigan’s appointment comes nearly a year after Danielle Geathers became the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s first African American woman student body president.


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