Passing the torch, a legacy of ‘service above self’
It seems like any other day. Former Student Government Association President Cedric Bandoh sips his cup of black tea before juggling the demands of a full academic schedule, meetings with administrators and the weight of constituent commitments as a leader. But today will be the second day since joining SGA that he won’t have to balance a packed schedule.
From his humble beginnings as a freshman intern at SGA to chief of staff and, finally, his two-year tenure as the youngest president in the organization’s history, Bandoh has made it his mission to embody the ideas of advocacy and empowerment. His long list of accomplishments in student government has changed the course of the organization and its perception across campus.
“I’m a continuous improvement guy, so I never like to stop. … Just because you’re young and just starting off doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact,” Bandoh said. “I think a lot of people are very much interested and invested in the opinions of student government and the student body.”
Bandoh has worked vigorously with administrators to elevate the status of student government across campus, working in tandem with their efforts to push major changes like fixed-tuition rates, the New University Center, the new stadium and the Improve UH and Rebuild Cullen Boulevard initiatives. Administrators like Vice President for Student Affairs and Enrollment Services Richard Walker, who has SGA within his purview, praised Bandoh for his continued collaborative efforts.
“He has set a real strong standard of collaborative partnerships with University administrators across the whole campus,” Walker said. “I think he has really raised the level of prominence that SGA has and seats at the table when discussing all kinds of major issues that affect the University.”
Bandoh’s efforts reverberate far beyond the edges of campus. He has raised SGA’s visibility at the national level with his position on the National Campus Leadership Council. He has been sought after to speak on the future of higher education and the level of productivity that he has experienced during his presidency. Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs and SGA adviser Keith T. Kowalka has worked hand-in-hand with Bandoh.
“As a two-term SGA president, he has done a phenomenal job advocating for students and providing advocacy for students and their needs,” Kowalka said.
Though passing on Bandoh’s “baby” to the 51st administration is “bittersweet,” he said he believes in the abilities and vision of those to come.
“I think we’re leaving our administration with a lot of great relationships,” Bandoh said.
As he focuses on graduation, his personal motto of ‘service above self’ will be carried on into the future with the newly established Cedric K. Bandoh Distinguished Leadership Award, which was created by the 51st administration.
“He is articulate, thoughtful, creative and powerful. His visionary leadership will long be felt at UH,” said Provost Paula Short, who also has worked directly with Bandoh on her UH in 4 initiative and fixed tuition.
Though Bandoh won’t be in his post as the face of SGA, he hopes to continue his involvment on the sidelines and, eventually, as an alumnus.
“There comes a time when you have to pass the torch on, when it’s time for new leadership, and I think that time has come for me,” Bandoh said.