Kalief Metellus, a 2021 graduate of the State University of New York at Old Westbury, began his work in July as a member of the first class of SUNY’s first-ever Student Advocate Fellowship Program.
Metellus’ appointment as the system’s Student Advocate Fellow was announced earlier this year by SUNY Chancellor Jim Malatras, along with three other recent SUNY graduates. In these roles, the fellows will work with SUNY’s executive leadership team to drive student-centric policy initiatives to address pressing issues including affordability, access, academic quality and success, racial and social justice, mental health services, resources for students with disabilities, and food insecurity, among others.
“Their experience at SUNY—coupled with an excellent education from our campuses and their stellar academic achievements—is what we need to build on our programs to stay current to meet and exceed the needs of our students,” said Chancellor Malatras. “In turn, throughout the next two years of the fellowship we will continue their education with a robust professional development program to give them training in areas that usually develop over years of work experience. Our Student Advocate Fellowship Program is as much about our fellows’ individual career growth as is it about strengthening SUNY’s overall efforts to provide an affordable, accessible, and high-quality education.”
As the Student Advocate Fellow, Metellus reports to Senior Advisor to the Chancellor Dr. John Graham, who serves as the student advocate within the system’s leadership.
Metellus comes to this work after having served as a student leader at SUNY Old Westbury throughout his collegiate experience. Having graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics, Economics and Law, he served on campus as Student Government Association President and sat on the institution’s College Council. He authored resolutions to benefit the broad diversity of the student body, established scholarship awards for students, and provided funding for food pantries and housing resources, among other accomplishments to serve students in need.
The Fellows Professional Development Program will support the SUNY Fellow’s success throughout their two-year appointment. This program includes monthly sessions that cover a range of topics from learning to lead and communicate effectively, to balancing work and life as they step into their first career. Each fellow will receive a SUNY mentor—an employee at either SUNY system administration or a senior administrator on a SUNY campus—who they can call and go to whenever they need and who will help support their professional growth.