First Black Woman Elected As University Of Cincinnati Student Body President

Photo credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services

Senior neuroscience and organizational leadership double major, Sinna Habteselassie, recently made history at the University of Cincinnati after she was elected as student body president. In UC's 199-year history, Habteselassie became the first African American woman student to be elected to serve in the role.

After some persuasion from friends and mentors and ultimately turning down an internship opportunity, Habteselassie decided to run for the coveted role. She soon realized that her significant fear of speaking in public would soon be challenged as she blazed the campaign trail. "I said, 'I have the ability to do it. I can do it,'" she shared with UC News. "We're not doing enough to make sure marginalized people have a seat at the table. Hopefully, my presence will encourage other people to participate."

Her recent victory continues to do just that as she uses her platform to speak out about issues such as mental health advocacy and maintaining college affordability to lower student debt rates. 

"There was a lot of pressure and significance knowing she would be the first Black woman to hold this position. But the fact that she talks so openly about her identity and how that influences how she wants to lead sets a different kind of precedent. She doesn't shy away from her identity," shared Program Coordinator in UC’s Office of Ethnic Programs & Services and mentor to Habteselassie, Peyton Wu. 

Photo credit: Joseph Fuqua II/UC Creative Services

As the child of Ethiopian immigrants who migrated to the United States during the mid 1980s, Habteselassie's family settled just south of Dayton, Ohio in Centerville where she was born and raised. She initially entered UC with hopes of becoming a doctor. Her travels abroad performing community outreach then led her aspirations to shift towards more grassroots work in public policy, health, and international law. After graduating from UC, she plans to continue her education in Washington, D.C. and immerse herself in the work of various D.C. global nonprofits and policy-centered organizations.

Determined to make a difference in such a key campus role, Habteselassie shared: "I hope I do a good job. More than anything, I’d like to see another woman come after me. "Women do amazing things in positions of leadership."

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