Student Board of Trustee member hopes to make UDC an ‘even more dynamic institution’

Student Board of Trustee member hopes to make UDC an ‘even more dynamic institution’

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Student Board of Trustee member hopes to make UDC an ‘even more dynamic institution’

Each year, the student body elects a student representative voting member of the University’s Board of Trustees, and this year’s representative is Tonya Harris. Harris will bring students’ perspectives into the university’s highest decision-making body and participate in regular board meetings, serve on board committees, participate in various university functions and ceremonies, and complete assigned projects. She will work closely with UDC leadership and the Student Government Associations.

Hailing from Newport News, Virginia, Harris is a third-year student at the David A. Clarke Law School (‘23). She has a B.A. in History Education, a M.Ed. in Administration and Supervision from Virginia State University and a Ph.D. in Leadership in Educational Administration from Capella University.

Harris is excited about her new role—a job she believes she is well-suited.

“I wanted to serve as student trustee to help the University better support current students while attracting new ones through innovative recruitment and retention programs,” she said. “I hope to represent the full student body. I want to be a ‘listening ear’ for concerns and ideas while supporting the next generation of matriculating Firebirds.”

Harris is a law clerk extern in the Washington Field Office for the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She frequently works as an intake volunteer with the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, which provides legal assistance in discrimination cases. Previously, she interned with the Office of General Counsel for the District of Columbia Public Schools. She also worked as a full-time sixth-grade world geography teacher in Washington D.C. from 2020-2022 and is the board president of Be That G.I.R.L., Inc., a nonprofit designed to help females who exhibit risky behaviors.

The new student trustee also enjoys writing. She won third place in the Washington Bar Association Regional Scholarship Competition and first place in the National American Kennel Club Writing Contest. She co-authored a children’s book, “I Am Who I Am.”

She notes that her favorite thing about being a UDC student is the supportive campus environment.  “Peers are always willing to assist with knowledge acquisition and other matters, as are the faculty and staff.”

One of her overall goals as student trustee is to create a streamlined process to encourage students to move from one campus to another fluidly.

“I want to help the University implement no-to low-cost initiatives that will improve student life and learning conditions; help to organize structures and systems better serve the students and staff; and assist the University in more holistically branding the amazing things done throughout the University system.”

Harris believes that UDC is a unique educational institution with tremendous potential.

“To help UDC become the flagship institution we all dream of it becoming, each staff member and student must invest our intellect and talent to achieve our collective dream,” she said. “I plan to help make the University an even more dynamic institution during my year of service.”

SBOT Tonya Harris 2022-2023