When Shenaedra “Shay” Tatum was officially inaugurated as the first Black female Student Government Association president at the University of Houston Downtown, it was a dream come true. Especially because she and fellow student Jason Lillie are the first African American president and vice president to serve UHD’s students.

“That’s one of the things that made me run,” Tatum said. “I wanted to make sure we could be represented. I did the work, worked my way up in the organization and it was time.”

Tatum has big plans for her tenure at UHD. She hopes to work on book affordability, and fair book pricing, so that students can afford to get books for their classes. 

“We are also working with accessibility as we have a lot of new buildings with limited parking, so I’m working with local businesses to get parking. It’s never been done. I’m also working with mayor on a few initiatives that would make some of the lots free,” she said. 

Tatum, who works as a sign language interpreter at The Church Without Walls, is also working with deaf and blind students who have to cross street to get to the university.

“We want to make sure they have proper lights and sound, so accessibility and sustainability is huge for me,” she added. 

Her tenure as president is simply preparing the non-traditional student and mother of three for her goals after graduation.

“I’m currently in the Nonprofit Master’s program. I want to run for City Council At Large in 2022,” she said. “And my ultimate goal is to get my nonprofit Pretty Girls Rock, where we mentor young girls 11-18, chartered all over the country.”