Hello everyone, I’m a senior studying sports management and economics, a member of the football team, and also this year’s Student Government President. I grew up right here in Chicago where my first memories were at 173rd and Pulaski. For those of you new to Chicago, everything happens at intersections around here. My parents, Shawna and Robert Banks raised me along with my 3 younger siblings—a brother, and twin sisters. Like every athlete in high school, the dream was to go to a D1 school. Yet, my path led me here and there is no other university that I would want to be a part of. The things that I have learned and experienced here have helped me grow into the gentleman that stands before you right now as your class president. I've taken many chances to step outside of my comfort zone and I don't regret any of them. I learned greatly and that’s what I encourage each and every one of you to do.
I have some tips for the new students. The first is about that comfort zone: go beyond it.
Try something new every day because you never know what doors can open for you. So, it may sound odd, but I’ve come to realize that I’m living my life based upon something I heard on my favorite TV show, Everybody Hates Chris. On one episode, Chris’s father is too cheap to buy Chris’s brother a real Wayne Gretsky hockey jersey. Instead, he gets a knock-off. On that episode, you hear Wayne Gretsky talking about hockey. I always remembered Gretsky saying something special in that interview: "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take." So I say, why not shoot? What's the worst that could happen? I find that going beyond my comfort zone is always rewarding in the end.
This is what leads me into my second tip: live into the diversity here at North Park.
This school represents so many different parts of the world that are actually so fascinating to me. I've sat and had some of the best conversations at the dinner table in the cafe with people from South Korea, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Ecuador. This university can open your eyes to new perspectives, especially for a black kid from the south side of Chicago. I always wanted to meet new people and make friends from all over the world when I went to college. Now, new people here see me not just as a kid from the South Side, but also as the Student Government President. The one with dreads.
My final tip is to be open to God's call while you’re here.
I am a person who is a strong believer in my faith and I know that without God I wouldn't be able to stand in front of you today as this year’s class president. Believe me, if I was sitting where you are, I wouldn’t think the guy with the dreads would be the Student Government President. And, there are some days that I’m still shocked it came to be. But that just goes to show you that God will place you in situations that you wouldn't always expect to be [in]. If you listen to God’s voice, you never know, you may even end up Student Government President.
So those are my tips: go beyond your comfort zone, live into the diversity at North Park, and most importantly, listen to God’s call. By doing these things, you will stay true to yourself and really become a better you.
Jamel Banks SGA President
Photo Credit: Jake Laser
Whether you are a returning student or a new student, we hope that you had a wonderful summer, and are prepared to start the new semester and year.
We at SGA have been through many changes over this last semester and the summer but we are excited for the year to begin. The Executive Committee, your Class senators and the Representatives are all ready to serve you as the student body to the best of our ability.
In the midst of the hectic first week of school, take some time to walk through Viking Fair and the all campus BBQ, which will be held Wednesday, Sept 2, 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., on the campus Green Space. Viking Fair is a great opportunity to meet members of SGA, club members and others that are involved in campus events.
Wherever you are in your time at North Park this semester, we would encourage you to make an effort to be involved on campus: volunteer with Urban Outreach through UMin, join an intermural team at Helwig, run for a Freshman Senator seat, write for the Spectrum, work a campus job, join an SGA Committee or CAB, join a club, start a club, or just be a regular at campus-wide events, home games, or in Java Haus. Probably don’t try all of them at once.
There is a myriad of ways to be involved on campus, and these experiences can range from a very memorable event to a life changing relationship or experience. Don’t be afraid to try. As our SGA President Jamel Banks pointed out this year in his Convocation address, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Involvement in any of these programs will both enrich your North Park experience and the experiences of those that come after you. We, the students, and our collective perspective is what makes North Park ... well, North Park. We are excited to be a part of that process and invite you to join us.
We hope to see you around and involved,
On Behalf of the Student Government Association,