Desmond Stowe is the man with a plan at Savannah State University. He organizes events for students to do on campus. As the director of student life, him and his team keep students busy with events and activities.
Q: We talked before and you're you graduated from North Carolina A&T? Are you from North Carolina or North Carolina?
A: Yeah, from Charlotte, North Carolina. I say born; semi raised. My dad was in the Air Force. So, I was born there but then moved around because my dad was in the Air Force and then came back probably around fifth grade my latter elementary school years and then stayed in Charlotte ever since.
Q: Okay, what did you study?
A: So, I studied journalism and mass comm. with a concentration in PR. So public relations was my concentration but the major was journalism and mass communications.
Q: Did your degree in Mass Communication help you with your job as Student Life Director?
A: Yes and no. I got an internship, working in public relations, and I didn’t like it so I went back to school to get another degree. And that degree kind of helped me get work in Student Affairs, but I will say the communications degree did help me find out what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do. So, it didn't particularly help me get this position directly, but indirectly I knew I didn't want to work in public relations because I had got internships and I got a job. And I didn't like it.
Q: Where did you get another degree?
A: Yeah, I got my master's degree in adult education with a concentration in higher ed. And so that's what kind of got me the career that I'm in now. And that was both from A&T, as well. I went back to grad school immediately after I got my undergrad. And I was given an assistantship with Housing and Residence Life. So, I was a hall director for Housing and Residence Life.
Q: Okay. So like, we fast forward, now you're here at Savannah State. How did that come about?
A: Let's see, in higher ed, I worked at A&T first in Student Conduct and then I worked at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, and student life and so that's why I became a Coordinator of Student Life. I Stayed there for four years and wanted more experience and directorship. So then that's what brought me to Savannah State. So I came to Savannah State to be a director to have more responsibility, larger salary, a larger budget. And so that's kind of what got me here to Savannah State. Through an organization called NASAP, which stands for National Association of Student Affairs Professionals. The Dean of Students here and the person who worked in a position before me, were a part of the association so I kind of knew Savannah State through them, and they're the ones who made me aware that the job was open and then that's how I applied so it was ultimately through, a Student Affairs Association that I was able to learn about the position at Savannah State.
Q: So, as the Student Life Director, what is it that you're in charge of? What does your position entail?
A: Under Student Life, you have the Department of student activities, so that's clubs and organizations, so clubs and student organizations, and then you have inclusion and diversity. So that deals with a little bit of international students, LGBTQ community students, commuter students, and then you also have Greek life under my area. So, fraternities and sororities and then Student Government Association so the SGA falls under my area as well as the royal courts and a little bit of Student Conduct, so our Student Conduct Office reports dually to me and the Dean of Students.
Q: What do you find rewarding about being a Student Life director?
A: Most rewarding will probably be seeing the growth in students years later. So, I guess success stories are good and I usually don't see those until students come back, you know during homecoming, and they have families, or they’ve gotten their dream job, things of that nature. So, that's what's most rewarding. I think just being able to be with the students and keep up with current trends. That's also you know, it keeps you as people say, if you hang around youth, it keeps you young, so it kind of keeps me young in a way.
Q: Ok, so do you contact the special guests for events personally?
A: Some we do, it depends on what the student wants in a particular year. Some artists who are maybe up and coming, they'll do their own promotions. And so they'll have, you know, maybe like an Instagram page and their contact information there. Some, we work with promoters. So there's typically a promoter that I've been working with for a while who has connections to two different artists and celebrities. But it just depends on the artist and the level of artist. There are a couple of local promoters that we've used, but it just relaxes it just really depends on the artist and what type of artist it is. If we are talking about performance wise, it's usually a major promoter, but if you're talking about hosting or doing a signing, it may be more of a local promoter or our partner with the radio station.
Q: Is there any anything else that you would want people to know about you or your position?
A: It is time demanding. It's fun, but time demanding so you do have to work on balance, and what balances is in your life or whatever that looks like. If it's social or if it's personal balance, whatever your personal goals are, because it's easy to get wrapped up into other people's goals. Its easy to pour into people and then still kind of get lost and not get poured into you. So, you’ve got to make sure you guard yourself. When you're around so many young people that want knowledge, help, and advice. Because you've been in that space before you want to help a lot of people and you can't. That takes a lot of time is very time.
Q: So, when we like talked before, you wanted to start doing more stuff outside of campus as well?
A: Correct. And so that's what I'm talking about, like my work, professional balance and then my professional goals as it relates to that. So, there's some opportunities that I have. I co-authored a book last year. It was about my experiences at a HBCU; you can get it on Amazon. It's The HBCU Experience NC A&T Edition. It just really talks about some Aggies, and our experience at a historically black college. And so that was something that I've wanted to do for a while and got the opportunity to do that. I'm also working on branding myself as a host for various events, in the community, and then just wherever that takes me.
This conversation was edited for length and clarity. He can be found on social media at stowednupe1911.