Ottillie Mensah

Sept. 20, 2017

No stranger to leadership positions, Ottillie Mensah ’19 sees her new role as president of the Student Government Association as another way she can make a difference at UNCW.

“I think we as students sometimes don’t understand how much power we cultivate. Students are the reason this campus is here,” said Mensah. “The Student Government Association empowers students to use their voices and speak up. We may not see an immediate impact, but laying a foundation now is imperative for change to occur.”

As UNCW celebrates its 70th anniversary this year, Mensah has big plans for the SGA, including increasing community engagement, encouraging diversity and inclusion, and prioritizing current student satisfaction during upcoming university renovation projects.

“I hope to continue to engage students, administration, faculty and staff alike in meaningful dialogue about Seahawks’ differences,” she said. “We can continue to learn how to respect others and their opinions, and open our minds as our population diversifies and grows.”

Mensah, a junior studying political science and international affairs, has been a member of the SGA since her freshman year, serving as both freshman class senator and sophomore class president. She also served as a member of the appropriations committee, two faculty-led committees and acted as student services committee chair.

“I have learned so much about our university in the first three months of my presidency, and I look forward to learning more,” she said. “I’ve been preparing for the academic year knowing that its trials and tribulations will keep me on my toes, but I know that I am ready for the challenge.”

Mensah looks forward to serving as the selected voice of her peers. “I find the idea of representation to be incredibly exhilarating because I have the opportunity to place myself in 16,000-plus different realities,” she said. “Some may parallel one another or my own, while others may be polar opposites. It is up to me to justly advocate for each realty and help make tangible change.”

Originally from Ghana, Mensah spent most of her childhood in Cary, N.C., before relocating to Wilmington in 2015. She stays grounded through optimism, reading and quiet reflection.

“I start every day with a prayer and words of affirmation,” she explained. “It’s something my mother taught me, and since childhood it’s been a part of my life. The way life is now, we are constantly on the go, moving from one thing to another. Reading and reflection remind me to slow down and take the time to enjoy it.”

- Christina Schechtman