By Jhoana T. Merino-Martinez
When Maame Mensah, a senior psychology major, started college in 2017, she had three goals in mind: join the cheerleading team, figure out her future and leave footprints for others along the way.
Equipped with her faith and ambition, Mensah knew she’d accomplish what she set out to do.
Today, Mensah is president of the Student Government Association (SGA) for two years running and president of the Black Student Union (BSU) for a third semester.
“Maame Mensah is an empathetic and dedicated young lady,” said Ruth Omoyinmi via text message, a junior international business management major. “Where most people would give up and throw in the towel, Maame keeps pushing through in hopes to see a better time.”
Omoyinmi is the vice president of SGA and the public relations representative for the BSU. She has known Maame for nearly three years.
“She has raised the bar on all levels in all of her endeavors with her uniqueness and positive attitude. It has truly been a pleasure to be able to work with such a powerful and dynamic woman,” Omoyinmi said.
Mensah’s roles consist of organizing and encouraging communications between Metropolitan campus organizations and building a stronger sense of community within the university.
As the president of two organizations, Mensah is no stranger to being busy. She starts every morning with a prayer at 9:30 a.m. before setting off to tackle the day. While her classes are on Mondays and Thursdays, Mensah teaches a mix of in-person and virtual cheer lessons on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Mensah also attends bible study with her family at their church Monday and Wednesday nights. Several days of the week are dedicated to meetings for the SGA and BSU, and she finishes any leftover work she has in between classes.
“I personally try to do all my work before the weekend, so I can have that time to attend to my self care and not have to worry about planning for an event or anything of the sort,” she said via text message.
Since BSU is a newer organization, Mensah’s responsibilities are behind the scenes. The most notable responsibility is ensuring support and making sure the voices of the African, African American and Caribbean student population are heard.
“There is always something new that can be done or fixed so I try to make sure I am doing my part in supporting the peers that believed in me to help elevate their college experience,” Mensah said.
She is also a cheerleader for the Knights. This year the squad was unable to cheer at basketball games, so Mensah took it upon herself to prepare incoming cheerleaders for an active sports season in the near future.
Maame Mensah from the 2019-2020 FDU Knight’s Cheerleading team roster (Photo courtesy of fduknights.org)
‘Adjusting One’s Mindset’
When the university switched to remote learning in Spring 2020, it was a setback for all student organization leaders.
Mensah said that the virtual life brought on by the pandemic makes it more difficult to engage students’ school spirit. To adjust to the new situation on campus means adjusting one’s mindset as well.
To Mensah, patience and resilience are must-haves to stay afloat during these trying times, but the duty to unity is something leaders will carry.
“We need to realign ourselves with our motives and driving forces for being a part of our organizations, so that we could focus on the job that needed to be done and how we could all play our parts,” she said.
Mensah said she owes a lot of her character to her mother, Henrietta Afful-Mensah, who was a strong, amiable woman and a pillar in her own community as well. Her mother’s passing in the beginning of her sophomore year defined her approach in life, Mensah said.
“Since my father was always traveling, I was always with my mother. As I started to be more mature, I realized how identical in characters we were and how much I wanted to be like her,” she said.
“She was always confident and determined to give every day of her life her best. Indirectly her impression in my life encourages me to be the same impression on someone else’s life.”
Mensah continues to apply this philosophy in every aspect of her life, especially in the FDU community.
“I knew I wanted to go to a small school that felt like home and I’ve come to appreciate the family I was brought into here at FDU Metro,” Mensah said.
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Photo courtesy of Maame Mensah. Art by Jhoana Merino.