For student government president, trailblazing is nothing new

February 01, 2023

Headshot of Owenea Roberts

Only two years into her college journey and Owenea Roberts ’23, MBA ’24, has already made Quinnipiac University history as the first international student and youngest person to be elected student government president. But for this first-generation college student from Pembroke, Bermuda, that kind of trailblazing is nothing new.

“While I was in high school in Bermuda, I had really good grades and was able to sit a college placement test for a dual-enrollment program with our community college,” said Roberts. “That’s how I ended up receiving my associate degree in business administration, and my high school diploma at the same time.”

Growing up in Bermuda, Roberts often thinks of herself as a rose growing through concrete. The youngest of three children, she is the first to admit she earned top grades in school but wasn’t always a model student. As she got older, it was the goal to make her family proud that motivated her to focus on her studies and strive ahead. That was how she found herself joining Quinnipiac in Fall 2021 with enough course credits to begin her first year in college as a junior. She was also accepted into another dual-degree program, this time in Quinnipiac’s 3+1 accelerated dual-degree BS/MBA accounting program.

She quickly immersed herself into campus life by joining student organizations such as the International Student Association, the African, Caribbean Student Union and the Student Government Association. Without hesitation, she assumed leadership positions in SGA as the multicultural and identity senator and member of the finance committee before being elected vice president for finance in November 2021.

But Roberts wanted to do more than quickly get involved on campus. She wanted to make a lasting impact. Like everything she does, Roberts is determined to leave the Quinnipiac community stronger for her time on campus as a student, SGA president and Bobcat.

“I know I'm here for a good cause, but I'm not here forever,” said Roberts. “I'm going home right after I get my degrees so I’m trying to make the most of my time.”

Roberts is proud to be representing the Quinnipiac student body as SGA president and is passionate about making the student government organization more accessible and transparent. Her goals as president include creating a diverse and equitable cabinet, restructuring the association to align with the needs of the community, and increasing SGA visibility on campus to further strengthen the lines of communication between students, campus organizations and administration.

“As SGA officers, we're making an effort to be seen on campus. We’re also inviting students into the SGA office suite in the Carl Hansen Student Center,” said Roberts. “The suite is not a private office. It’s open to everyone, not just SGA members. We would like it to be considered an open space where students can collaborate and  reinforce our sense of community. Hopefully, this type of interaction will underscore the role of SGA on campus and encourage others to join.”

Roberts has been instrumental in elevating the visibility of the Student Government Association by participating in campus events such as Welcome Weekend, the Quad Holiday Lighting and the recent Recreation and Wellness Center Grand Opening Ceremony.

She is also a member of Beta Alpha Psi, the international honor society for accounting, finance and information systems, and a member of the new Sawhney Leadership Program which aims to expand leadership development and corporate immersion opportunities for historically underrepresented students in higher education. As a Sawhney fellow, Roberts works collaboratively with partners across campus and in the regional business community to expose students to multiple examples of leadership and prepare them for entry into the workforce.

One of her initiatives has been to create a Quinnipiac legacy project that will include an annual Founders Day celebration, video and historical timeline focused on the history, accomplishments and impact of the university as it approaches its Centennial Anniversary in 2029.

“When I was in high school in Bermuda, our history was well celebrated. My secondary school was founded in 1897 as the first integrated school in Bermuda. Every year we would host a Founders Ceremony to celebrate our heritage and founders. I know my school’s history and our founders’ names like the back of my hand,” said Roberts. “I’d like to do the same here. I’m proud of Quinnipiac and would love to share not only our founders’ story and alumni accomplishments but also the culture of our indigenous name. I think that is something that should be celebrated and known among all members of our community.”

With an eye on the past, Roberts is also prepared for the future. True to fashion, she has already secured a full-time job after she graduates with her master’s degree in 2024.

As a high school student, Roberts attended an information session by KPMG International, one of the largest accounting firms in Bermuda, and decided to pursue their competitive scholarship program. After a rigorous application process, she was selected as the recipient of Frontier’s 2021 Scholarship which includes a tuition scholarship as well as employment opportunities for summer internships and a secured full-time position with a contract of three years following graduation.

Through KPMG’s global network of 145 offices worldwide, Roberts was also able to participate in a Global Advantage Program in Denmark and worked in the KPMG Bermuda office during her summer internship. After Quinnipiac, Roberts plans to pursue her Certified Public Accountant classification and return to KPMG to work in the audit department, an area she has solidified an interest in through her KPMG internships and Quinnipiac coursework.

“I wish more students would get out of their comfort zones and not be afraid to try new things,” said Roberts. “If you had asked me in high school if I would ever join the student council, I would’ve immediately told you it wasn’t for me. And now here I am, serving as president. I hope that I can inspire others to put aside their fears and get involved. We all can make a positive impact and leave our communities stronger for having known us.”

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