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Lean on Mi Feature of the Week: Aaliyah Copeland

Aaliyah Copeland is an ambitious, vivacious, leader. Who uses her talents to help her serve her community. Here, Aaliyah gave me new insight in what it means to be a leader and how an organization is a moving body and not co dependent on just one person. She also shares her upcoming plans as Hampton University's next 2016-2017 SGA Representative to the Board of Trustees. She definitely is someone you can lean on this semester.

Tell me a little about yourself and your background?

Why did you choose to attend Hampton University? I'm Aaliyah Brielle Copeland, senior strategic communications major from Atlanta, Georgia. I'm a second generation Hamptonian, so I grew up knowing Hampton was going to be my next home as much as I tried to fight it (and I fought hard). I grew up with a mom that played no games when it came to education and a younger sister that I was responsible for. I aspire to recreate the image of minorities in radio, television and film by using my skills and experience at a television network. I'm currently a Marketing and Digital intern at truTV, a Turner brand, in New York City.

You are currently the senior co facilitator of the Greer Dawson Wilson Student Leadership Training Program. What were the steps you took to gaining this position?

Initially joining SLP, my goal was to be amongst the best of the best to push myself to my greatest potential. I would've never thought, as a freshman trying out, that I would be entrusted with the position I have now. With that said, the steps I took to gaining this was simply being my authentic self; working hard for the good of the university and the community, encouraging others to do the same and always being accountable and responsible for my actions (and others' too sometimes). Surrounding myself with people that expected nothing less than my best at all times and weren't afraid to let me know when I wasn't giving that is the biggest blessing the program could have offered me.

What has been a pivotal moment or event, while being in college?

The most pivotal moment in college for me was finally becoming comfortable with who Aaliyah is and finding the essence of what makes me, me. From my accent to my appearance to my attitude to my personality, it took a while for me to truly be okay and be able to confidently say "This is who I am." That process took some real personal time, just me and God, to analyze and dig deeper into the flaws, the imperfections and the things we try to cover up and I'm so glad I did. Now I'm able to give genuine love and light to others who may be going through their personal time and be bold and confident in who I am.

In the upcoming school year you will be the 2016-2017 SGA Representative to the Board of Trustees? What initiatives do you plan to enhance and engage Hampton students?

Right now, I am working on the alumni component to the Locks of Love Bridge, as a preface to my goal of increasing alumni giving and pushing forward the Hampton is Home campaign. My initiatives are targeted to create a more holistic environment, bridging alumni and current students. Pending the town hall meeting during fall semester, where the concerns of students can be voiced, I am committed to giving my best efforts to realize those concerns. If any current students have anything they wish to alert me about and/or would like me to take heed to now, I can always be contacted at

As women, we are often looked more closely when it comes to positions of power, with being the face of two organizations SLP and SGA, How do you deal with the pressure and negativity that make come into play with serving people?

I don't consider myself the "face" of either organization. There are so many moving parts to each that credit is due where credit is due and I don't have my hands in every single event or program. Even still, as a leader, the pressure and negativity comes with the territory and as a woman, it's so important to know who you are to not be phased by it. By me being assertive, nine times out of ten I'm going to be considered a "b****" by someone else's standard. I'm going to be considered "mean" and "unapproachable" because I command respect when you speak to me. To deal with that, I've learned simply to not take anything personal. Someone else's problem with you isn't your problem and you should never invite someone else's negative opinion into your space.

What is the legacy you wish to leave at Hampton University? and Why can other girls or women lean on you?

The legacy I want to leave at Hampton is simple: to inspire other girls to not be afraid of their own genius; to be able to explore their femininity and their bossiness by respecting themselves and others. I hope that my tenure at Hampton has demonstrated that true leaders don't create followers, they create more leaders better than them. Other women can lean on me because I understand what it's like to be misunderstood, to feel defeated and overwhelmed with societal expectations, but in spite of it all, I'm a living testament to getting through the toughest of times better than ever. If I can do it, you can too.

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