Saraya Ashley ’22

Saraya Ashley
2021-2022 President, Student Government Association

Saraya Ashley is a graduating senior Political Science major from Durham, North Carolina by way of Atlanta Georgia. She is the eldest daughter of Martin Ashley Sr. and Natasha Jeffries. She graduated high school from Durham School of the Arts (DSA) pursuing chorus as her concentration. She was not only a choral student, but was heavily involved in Student Council where she served as a member her first two years and her last two years serving as Junior Class Vice President and Senior Class President. Her affinity for representing others has always been strong.

Saraya was introduced to Fisk University her sophomore year of high school when the Fisk Jubilee Singers® and Dr. Paul Kwami visited her high school for a choral clinic in 2016. She is the daughter of HBCU graduates, her mother attending Jackson State University and her father attending North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. She has always had the desire to attend an HBCU for her undergraduate studies and she only applied to HBCUs in her search for college acceptance. She was accepted to Fisk University, in January of 2018 and has been committed to the university since.

Along with her dedication to her studies, she has been an avid student leader on campus and in her community. Serving in various leadership positions on campus, Saraya has placed action behind every position and believes fervently in servant leadership. She has served as the 2020-2021 SGA Alumni Affairs Liaison, 2018-2019, 2nd Vice President of the Fisk University Chapter of the NAACP, President and Vice President of Home Free USA’s Center for Financial Advancement, headed by alumna Marcia Griffin, a Resident Assistant in the freshmen women dormitory, Jubilee Hall her sophomore and junior year, a member of the Alpha Beta Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., an Honors Scholar in the Fisk University W.E.B. DuBois General Honors Program, a Fisk University Student Ambassador, and is now serving as Fisk University’s Student Government Association President for the 2021-2022 academic year. She loves this university and all it has provided for her and many of her peers. She is also heavily involved in the greater Nashville community working as the Office of Diversity and Community Life (ODCL) Intern at the University School of Nashville. She aids the ODCL Director, Roderick White in various diversity initiatives, interacts with students from lower school age to high school age, and aids the different student-led affinity group organizations through various projects.

Saraya is extremely dedicated to the work done regarding equity for minorities in this nation and she plans to put forth the actions necessary to become a lobbyist in D.C. advocating for organizations that are dedicated to educational, health, and environmental equity. Upon graduation from Fisk, she is looking for an opportunity to work in D.C. or New York for a corporation in public or government affairs, a government agency, a non-profit, or a think tank. She is looking to gain work experience first and then pursue a Master's Degree in Public Policy or Public Administration and most likely a law degree. She is looking to work her way up in D.C. and potentially serves on a president’s cabinet.

Saraya has had aspirations of serving as Fisk University’s Student Government Association President for many years and her main goal has always been to advocate for the whole Fisk University student. To her, the student experience is composed of many different factors. She understands that not only is the college experience limited to academic growth, but also in the holistic on-campus experience. Students have to feel acknowledged in order for the university to continue to grow and prosper. Saraya ran on the campaign “Take Your S.E.A.T. at the Table,” S.E.A.T. standing for Students Excelling Amongst the Top. She believes in the principle of empathetic leadership. To her, this means making a point to understand the voice and position of those you lead and within that, you inspire them to lead in their spheres of influence as well. Through this principle, the current SGA Cabinet, tenderly named the SEATED Administration, has been dedicated to working on initiatives that enhance the voices of students while encouraging them to advocate for themselves as well. Through surveys that compile qualitative data of student feedback on their current experiences and then creating initiatives that allow the opportunity to have conversations with those that can aid in the implementation of change, ideal outcomes can be achieved bettering the student experience. Also, an emphasis on diversity has been placed on the development of the Fisk Experience for all and the cabinet has instituted work surrounding the implementation of events and dialogue catered to the inclusivity of international students and students of minority populations.

Lastly, one of Saraya's goals for the year is instituting a more engaging environment coming out of a past year of virtual experiences. She hopes that her administration can showcase Fisk University and its students in the light it deserves. Her main priority is to foster a close-knit atmosphere on campus where every student can find a place they belong and feel valued and heard.