Bradley Opere, an ALA alum currently at the University of North Carolina (UNC) recently won the race for student body president with 53% of the overall vote. Bradley has been in a state of shock and elation since the election.
His journey has been an interesting and challenging one, which speaks to his tenacity and resilience. He is currently pursuing a double major in business and political science at UNC. He admits that he is a fan of politics, but initially shied away from participating in anything linked to this interest.
As a way of overcoming his fears, he set out on a quest to overcome and bring out the best in himself and his peers. Running for student body president was about reminding himself that one can be anything they want to be. The campaign was centered on a spirit of community that served to remind everyone that the ability to embrace differences is precisely what brings people together. It’s that positivity that carried him as well as his campaign manager – also an ALA alum, Goodman Lepota – through to victory.
Bradley’s leadership trait and his ability to identify talent and foster collaboration amongst people, is something he has worked years to master. While at ALA, he was the Chairman to the student government where he wrote the Academy’s inaugural Honor Council constitution. “As Dean, I had the opportunity to work closely with Bradley during his time as Chair of the ALA student government, and he left a powerful impression. I’m thrilled to see him continue to challenge himself at UNC to lead diverse communities and unite people from different backgrounds with a common purpose. I have no doubt that he will be an exceptional student body President at UNC-Chapel Hill”, adds Chris Bradford.
He and Goodman were close friends at ALA, and when the conversation to run began, Bradley trusted his friend who has a keen interest in presidential campaigns. Both sought to pioneer an industry solely focused on the African continent. Although not a UNC student himself, Goodman was certain his perspective and ideas were valuable. Thanks to the incredible network fostered while at ALA, both could achieve a shared goal – all while managing the campaign via Skype from different cities. “I don’t believe the campaign strategy would have been anything if it wasn’t for his ability to make others believe it was possible”, says Goodman.
There were however, many challenges they had to overcome and for Bradley, managing 150 people was tricky task. The lessons he learnt through the process allowed him to be innovative and reminded him to stay grounded despite all the obstacles. He was also excited about showing everyone around him that he and his team can achieve whatever they set their minds to. He recalls jokingly thinking to himself, that the experience would earn him an invitation to the White House to meet President Obama – if he heard there was a Student Body President from Kenya heading one of America’s largest public universities.
As Student Body President, Bradley seeks to tell a different narrative about what African leadership is. He looks forward to telling a story about how capable youth in his native of Kenya are. As far as Carolina is concerned, he sees this as a chance to speak out and stand with students stalwartly on issues. He no longer wants students to second guess where the Student Body President stands. He plans on reshaping the campus and bring together those who ordinarily couldn’t come together and collaborate towards a shared vision. He cites his 53% majority (which hasn’t happened the last four years) as the highlight of the entire campaign.
“What set us apart, was hard work and belief. We believed when everyone around us discounted us and told us we didn’t stand a chance. It’s amazing to see how much inspiration that belief has spread. Now we have to live up to the belief with hard work. In the end I was shocked by the result but it was a testament to a great team of people around me.” – Bradley Opere