Marcus Kernizan has been focused on being a leader since his first day at Georgia State University.
The senior public policy major beams with Panther pride as he tells stories about how he rose from a freshman in the Emerging Leaders Freshmen Learning Community (FLC) to being elected as the new president of GSU’s Student Government Association (SGA).
“I developed everything I wanted to do in college my freshman year. I wanted to be a part of the 1913 Society and to be in student government. I wanted to leave a legacy behind,” said Kernizan, who is minoring in computer information systems.
The 21-year-old describes himself as a “regular student” and still laughs every time he thinks back on the day that his FLC classmates voted him “most likely to become the on campus president.”
“My mom has it on her refrigerator, but I thought it was a joke, everyone thought it was a joke and it actually happened,” he says.
Kernizan has helped make several policy changes at GSU, including working to have the GSU Panther Express shuttles pick up at the Piedmont North Housing Complex and petitioning to have the Mega One Stop open a week before classes start.
“Marcus is a great leader because he has great discernment,” said Taylor Briggs, SGA executive vice-president. “Everyday the SGA president is bombarded with meetings, requests from students and nudges from staff and they are forced to sort through it all. Marcus can prioritize and bring us back a student-centered approach. He is empathetic towards every person he listens to and genuinely cares about their concerns.”
But Kernizan has also learned a lot about being a leader over the years.
Back in high school, Kernizan was his senior class president. At GSU, he has served as vice-president of academic affairs for SGA, vice-president of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and was the recipient of the Rising Star Leadership award during his sophomore year.
“I just have a passion and love for Georgia State,” Kernizan said. “I think Georgia State is a new world of possibilities and a place where dreams really do come true. It may sound cliché, but people really do find themselves as a student here at Georgia State.”
Kernizan believes he was able to win the election because of the connections he made with the student body, through involvement in student organizations, serving as an Inceptor at New Student Orientation and working in the Freshman Dining Hall.
“I introduced the students to campus and then when they came to campus I was able to continue to bond,” said Kernizan, who won the SGA election along with 15-members on the “Team Impact” party.
Increasing the visibility of SGA is one of Kernizan’s top priorities this fall.
“Student government is here to provide results to student issues and student concerns,” he said. “Students need to know who their representatives are, who to take their issues to and who is voicing their concerns.”
Since he took on his new leadership role, Kernizan has led an executive board meeting and attended a Student Government Association Development Retreat. He is also working with the Athletics Department to help plan Homecoming and discussing ways to increase attendance at athletic events.
“I want to increase school spirit,” he says. “We are going into the Sunbelt Conference and that is huge for us. I want to get the students excited about that, but I also want to increase the overall turn out at all student organization events.”
This fall, Kernizan plans to share a book he wrote with students filled with tips about how to get involved on campus. Some of Kernizan’s other recent accomplishments include completing an internship at the Georgia Public Service Commission and studying abroad to France, Germany and Luxembourg with the Andrew Young School.
To learn more about SGA, visit http://www.gsu.edu/sga/.
Aug. 13, 2012