Former Student Government Association President Takes Healthy Step out of the Limelight

Brandon Henderson chose self-care during stressful period

Our ongoing story starts with people from around the world, converging here at UMKC. Get to know our people and you’ll know what UMKC is all about. 

Brandon Henderson
Hometown: Kansas City, Missouri
High School: North Kansas City High School
UMKC degree program: Political Science
Anticipated graduation year: December 2021 

Brandon Henderson was on a roll. He ran for UMKC Student Government Association (SGA) president last spring because he wanted to serve the student body and help lead through the COVID-19 crisis. In addition, he was interested in politics and wanted to part of the process to help correct issues that have affected society for generations: systemic racism, police brutality, mass incarceration. While he is still devoted to those issues, he decided to take a step back from his position last December. It was not an easy decision, but he’s finding a new definition of success.

"Last Fall I was sprinting. I was trying to do everything and be everything." - Brandon Henderson

“Last fall I was sprinting. I was trying to do everything and be everything,” Henderson says. “For a while it was working. I was doing it. I was going to three different events a week and organizing activities through SGA – like the Critical Conservations event with Mayor Quinton Lucas.”

Henderson was committed to his position.

“I felt as though any minute I wasn’t spending doing something for students was a minute wasted.”

Henderson found he was making less time for personal needs – eating well, sleeping, exercise and school work.

“That's part of the job of being an elected official. You don’t want to disappoint people, and I think I went into it trying to do everything possible not to do that. Then I began to realize that I'm not Superman. I can't fix everything.”

Henderson’s challenge became not being able to say, “No.”

“I kind of rigged the game against myself,” he says. “There was no way I could meet the expectations I’d set for myself, so when I didn’t it just reinforced my negative feelings.”

He found himself thinking that it would be nice to step away from the office, but he didn’t think he could do that. He felt determined to stick it out.

“Then I reminded myself that [former Missouri state legislator and Missouri Secretary of State] Jason Kander, who is someone I look up to, stepped away from his bid for Kansas City mayor because he needed to focus on treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

And I thought, ‘If he can walk away from that, why can’t walk away from this?’”

Henderson knew that he could have gone through the motions and finished his term.

“But our students deserved somebody in the role who could give 100%.”

“I feel like I’m living my life in the moment. I can be present and appreciate what is happening.”

Mahreen Ansari, (BA ’22) who was the SGA vice president at the time, agreed to assume the role of president.

Calling the SGA officers to tell them each one personally was difficult, but Henderson was relieved once he had spoken to everyone. After resigning, Henderson sought help at the Counseling Center.

“It took a little while to get in, but I met with a counselor and they have so many resources for self-wellness. I would recommend them. I’ve heard from other students that they feel the same stress and anxiety I did. I was worried that I was letting people down, but instead other people saw themselves in me, which is reassuring.”

Henderson is sleeping better, eating better, exercising more and doing better in school. He has two semesters left and is focusing on finishing strong.

“I feel like I’m living my life in the moment. I can be present and appreciate what is happening.”



Learn more about College of Arts and Sciences

Published: Feb 25, 2021