‘Get Stuff Done’: An intro to Melvin Ridley III, ‘23-24 A.S. Vice President of External Relations

From his journey to virtual learning to finding his community, Ridley has his eyes set on prioritizing civic engagement at SDSU
Courtesy of Olivia Li, Associated Students
Courtesy of Olivia Li, Associated Students

The COVID-19 pandemic — in its early discovery — tasked many to reconsider their everyday lives in order to assimilate into a new form of normalcy. And during that time, education shifted from face-to-face learning to virtual courses. 

Melvin Ridley III, a political science major with a double minor in honors interdisciplinary studies and economics, was one of many first-year San Diego State University students whose academics took place behind a screen in 2020.

“I feel like it was definitely a little tough for me, but I have come a long way,” Ridley said. 

After he became accustomed to virtual courses, learning at SDSU would then revert its academics back to hybrid and, eventually, to in-person instruction. Every student’s journey of navigating their way back to in-person learning varies, but for Ridley, it was a unique experience during his sophomore year. 

Courtesy of Melvin Ridley III

Ridley found community in the Black Resource Center and other organizations, like the SDSU Black Pre-Law Association

“If the opportunity comes knocking, you have to open the door,” Ridley said. “I feel I was grateful enough where a lot of people were able to come to me and be like, ‘Hey, Melvin, you might be interested in this (position).’ Or ‘I think this (position) will be a great role for you to look into.’”

Ridley credits his peers and extracurricular involvement at SDSU for helping him evolve as a leader. However, the driving force that inspired Ridley to broaden his leadership was his desire to champion for change within his campus. 

Though finding the answers to promote his ambition was complex, and to understand issues on SDSU’s campus, Ridley surrounded himself in spaces where student concerns were prevalent.

However, it was one conversation with Shawki Moore, former Associated Students president, that stood out to Ridley. Initially unsure about his qualifications of being an advocate for a larger student body, Ridley became more open to the idea of becoming an A.S. Executive Officer.

“(Moore) told me that everything I’ve done has led up to this moment. (And) for me to not take that step to trust myself would throw away everything that I’ve done in these past years — throwing away everything I’ve built to make myself the person I am now,” Ridley said. “Everything that I have done has led up to this moment. Why close the door?”

Just opening that conversation led to countless opportunities, and the community Ridley found in his sophomore year has grown significantly as a result of the responsibilities his new position entails.

Heading into his final year, Ridley will be serving as the 2023-2024 A.S. Vice President of External Relations.  

“I am the political advocate for any student needs on a governmental level, and I maintain relations with external forces that impact the campus and student life,” Ridley said. “Any legislation that may impact students, I will have my eye on (it).”

As the Vice President of External Relations, Ridley wants himself and his fellow Executive Officers’ mission to be understandable for students, given their vital role in Associated Students.

But for Ridley to achieve that goal, he aims to advance student careers, increase civic engagement and political confidence among students with the help of his expertise in political science (and even social media).


Courtesy of Olivia Li, Associated Students

Serving as the Chief Communications Officer, Ridley oversees A.S.’s website and social media accounts. This year, Ridley’s strategy is to re-engage with students on various social media platforms to promote outreach events at the university — with some surrounding strengthening students’ sentiments on civic engagement.

“I want to give students the proper knowledge they need to make an educational choice so they don’t become overwhelmed by what’s constantly being spewed out in the media (as) it can be hard to understand the message,” he said. “So when next year comes around, students can feel confident in their vote and the leader they’re electing within their community.”

This year, the A.S. Executive Officers have coined the slogan “Get Stuff Done.” 

According to Ridley, the message behind this year’s slogan is to reshape the narrative of what A.S. is — in the eyes of those new to student government — and how every voice is integral to cultivating growth at SDSU.

Outside of his role as the A.S. Vice President of External Relations, Ridley carries other titles, such as being a member of SDSU’s Student African American Brotherhood, as well as an Academic Coach at the Black Resource Center and he is a Henrietta Goodwin Scholar.

For his tenure, Ridley wants to continue being a liaison for students to bring their concerns to him surrounding any issues they face. 

“I love to hear any problems that students see on campus because that’s what I’m (here) for — to address those issues,” Ridley said. “We all have our goals, and I have my initiatives and what I am doing. But at the bare minimum, my duties are to the problems that affect students on campus now.”

About the Contributor
Daesha Gear, '23-24 Editor in Chief
Daesha Gear (she/her) is a third-year transfer from Riverside City College. During her time at RCC, Gear was heavily involved with her student-run publication, Viewpoints, in which she served as the Opinion and News Assistant Editor. She has also been awarded an honorable mention by the Journalism Association of Community College for covering a feature story surrounding the lack of resources for LGBTQ+ students at her community college. Outside of covering for her student-run publication, Gear has freelanced as a contributor for a local Riverside newspaper called The Raincross Gazette. Outside of writing, Gear loves to travel, draw and watch classic horror films. Gear is thrilled to be part of The Daily Aztec, and she is ready to write more hard-news stories and serve her brand new community.