By Acacia James, Contributing Writer
Posted 2:50 PM EST, Fri., Feb. 17, 2017
Arabella Okwara, 21, is a senior political science major, African-American studies minor from East Providence, Rhode Island. She is the current vice president of the Howard University Student Association’s 56th administration, and is also the president of the international pre-law fraternity, Phi Alpha Delta. Being in such a high position for more than one organization could be seen as stressful, but Okwara is making it work.
Okwara was appointed HUSA’s VP by HUSA Executive President Allyson Carpenter this past fall. This appointment occurred after the unexpected resignation of former HUSA VP Jordan Roper. According to HUSA, Roper resigned due to the workload of being HUSA’s VP.
“There was no constitutional protocol on how to fill a vacancy for HUSA executive, so I released an executive order,” Carpenter said. “Arabella shares our values, but brings a different approach that has proven to be effective.
Okwara was already familiar with Carpenter when she worked with the HUSA Senate and her during an event called ElectHer, which was an event held to promote young women to run for public office. During their work together on these events, the two realized that they worked well together.
“Because I had been dedicated to student government already, it was a kind of a natural fit,” Okwara says. Although she was somewhat hesitant in the beginning she accepted the offer to be HUSA Vice President “willfully and gratefully.”
Okwara’s past experiences with student government and politics include being on HUSA Senate as a representative for Colleges and Arts and Science, where she later stepped up into the constitutional review committee chair position. This position entailed her looking over constitution proposals, and vetting policy board members ensuring that they were sound members.
Okwara’s role as Vice President has been to position herself as a mediator between Senate, and Executives. She says a lot of her role has been attending meetings and working out issues that may come along. “Sometimes students will tweet Allyson with their issues, and we try to work to get them solved.”
So far, Okwara has been working on a Transportation Alternatives Committee, “under that will fall the Bike Project, which students will receive more updates on in the future through HUSA’s mid-year report,” Okwara said. She is also focusing on putting an advisory committee together to work on different methods to improving Howard’s shuttle system, such as better shuttle stops and better times for the shuttle to be running. Another facet of transportation she is looking into is getting students metrocards, and also partnering with an affordable ride sharing app for students.
Luckily Okwara has not faced any challenges or adversity, and said, “I’m fortunately enough it’s been a very smooth transition.”
Although she’s extremely dedicated to student government, Okwara’s political practices are taken beyond campus as well. She has interned with IMPACT, which is an organization dedicated to helping young Black politicians and professionals. She has also worked with the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, who she says does a lot of research and conventions for young political leaders as well.
In the future, Okwara has hopes to strengthen and further her political career.