When Rodesha Elam graduates from Fort Valley State University next year, she fully intends to take giant steps towards her goal of becoming a leader in communications across various forms of media. For starters, she plans to work in broadcasting, both in front of the camera and as an editor. The media studies major isn’t waiting to graduate before she flexes her national leadership muscles, however. This summer, the U.S. Department of Education announced her selection as a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Competitiveness Scholar, the highest student recognition presented by the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. They are singled out because of their outstanding preparation to compete for “top opportunities that improve long-term outcomes.” Elam was nominated by FVSU President Paul Jones.
“The Initiative’s watchword is competitiveness, and these students are fine examples of the depth and diversity of competitive talent at our institutions,” said Jonathan Holifield, executive director of the White House Initiative on HBCUs. “We are honored to recognize them.”
Elam already serves as the president of the Alpha Beta Chapter of Alpha Kappa Sorority, Inc. on FVSU’s campus. She has also presented her research on international media censorship at the national level. This fall semester, she is particular looking forward to producing programming on campus related to self-esteem and mental health. The Hephzibah, GA native believes that service and scholarly leadership is critical not only to her individual growth, but also to her ability to contribute to the world.
I feel that it is important for students to be leaders because it gives you the opportunity to develop different skills that will be necessary once you enter the work world.” -Rodesha Elam
“I feel that it is important for students to be leaders because it gives you the opportunity to develop different skills that will be necessary once you enter the work world,” said Elam. “Working with people from different backgrounds with different personalities and understanding their points of view on different situations makes you a more well-rounded person because you get that exposure to people who are not like yourself.”
Competitiveness Scholars were selected based on their academic achievement, campus and civic involvement, and entrepreneurial ethos or “go-getter” spirit. In the course of their one-year term, Competitiveness Scholars are tasked to learn and share proven and promising practices with their peers which support individual and institutional achievement, with the goal of strengthening prospects for career and life success for all HBCU students. As part of that training, Elam and the 43 other Competitiveness Scholars will attend the 2019 National HBCU Week Conference, September 8-11, 2019 in Washington, DC. They will be recognized during the Initiative’s Excellence in Innovation and Competitiveness Awards luncheon ceremony on Sept. 9.
“I want more students to be aware of the opportunities we have through FVSU” said Elam. “We get to travel and attend different conferences and develop our interpersonal skills. Being a Competitiveness Scholar is exciting because I get to put it out on the forefront, showing students that this is what you can do. There is more to FVSU besides going to class and going to parties. There is so much that we can do here.”