Bruce Wilson: Leading by example

Allyson Edge | Staff Writer

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Courtesy of Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson may be well known on campus for his position as vice president in the Hampton University Student Government Association, but that is just one of the many hats he wears both on and off campus.

Growing up in the city of Chicago, Wilson was inspired by his parents, who both devoted their careers to service, and he was also able to witness firsthand the rise of other notable leaders such as President Barack Obama. Wilson’s passion for service has led him to attend many different events and participate in various groups in order to initiate change within the Hampton University community as well as society as a whole. 

Most recently, Wilson attended the George Washington University Reclaiming Our Real Estate Panel, which featured major figures in D.C. real estate, Donahue Peoples III and Marcus Goodwin. They discussed issues such as reinvesting into communities and economic development amid gentrification. 

Earlier this month, Bruce was also able to attend the National Campaign for Political & Civic Engagement at Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics. This conference focused on breaking down barriers to democracy in our communities and on our campuses leading up to the presidential election in 2020. 

His work with the Center for Law and Social Policy and Institute for Responsible Citizenship provided him the opportunity to work on topics such as educational policy and recidivism. His research piece, entitled “Between the Lines: Understanding Our Country’s Racialized Response to Opioid Epidemic,” is expected to be published soon. 

Wilson gave a TEDx talk at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in November. His TEDx talk conveyed how being involved in student government can lead students to be successful in the future. He also touched on the importance of developing strong leadership skills. 

Wilson stated that, for him, the hardest part of being a leader is “having the best intentions for people, policy and your university and people not realizing it. Wanting to be on everyone’s team, but people do not understand how institutional change occurs because it takes time.” 

On campus, a key focus of Wilson’s work this year in HU Student Government, aside from working on the general concerns of students, was the Student Organizational Coalition. The primary goal of this initiative was to push many student-created organizations and bring people together. He noticed that many groups and organizations have the same goals, ambitions and passions, and they end up reaching for the same crowds. 

According to Wilson, one of his favorite quotes, which derives from an African proverb, is: “If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together.” Thus, Wilson pushed for more partnership and collaborations among student-led groups, which will also help to unify the community. 

For younger students who are thinking about applying or running for a leadership position, Wilson suggests that they “first be unapologetic in your ambition. Figure out what it is you want to do and take it head on. Especially coming in as a freshman, as a transfer, just do it.” He noted that if one is ambitious just for the sake of being ambitious, it will eventually become counterproductive. 

To learn more about Wilson’s philosophy on leadership and the importance of participating in student government, view his TEDx talk at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgKGk9R8E_M. 

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