The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Student leader spotlight: president of SJU Naturals

Jala Cosley ’22, president of SJU Naturals, finds new ways to promote physical and mental health. PHOTO: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

With St. Joe’s students isolated to abide by COVID-19 protocols, chances to connect with fellow students are limited. Each week, The Hawk will offer conversations with student leaders to help the community get to know the leader and their organization.


This week’s Q&A is with Jala Cosley ’22, the president of SJU Naturals, an organization that promotes physical and mental health through natural beauty and health care. 

Cosley is from North Philadelphia and plans to attend medical school to be a family primary care physician in Philadelphia after graduation.  


What impact does SJU Naturals have on the St. Joe’s community?

It’s a safe space for people to learn about different things. It also helps people find their routines for their body, whether that be natural hair care, skin care, workouts or eating habits. SJU Naturals is a safe space to really say what you want to say without judgment from anyone. 

What does “natural” mean in the context of SJU Naturals and how does the club offer an inclusive environment?

Natural can be skin, like we will do DIY body scrubs and things like that. Natural can also pertain to the body. We did an event on smoothies. We do yoga, bodyweight things and learn about natural hair. We have done body-positivity events, where we learn how to workout without weights. We make the events accessible to everyone, and money wise, we talk about budgeting while living healthy.

Why is a club like SJU Naturals important at a school like St. Joe’s, a predominantly white institution?

Definitely going back to that safe space, a lot of people of color don’t really understand the importance of mental health or physical health, and that really wasn’t present on our campus. This club is a safe space that educates people on how to make sure they are incorporating health into their lifestyles and making sure to actually take the time to learn about healthy living habits, especially when students have so many things going on in their life.

How does SJU Naturals support Black, Indigenous and women of color on campus? 

For females, it definitely gives us a space to just work out without being harassed. Also, to disclose information that you have always had in your head, here you are free to ask people anything. I know people who have shared their weight loss journey or had some questions that they probably would not have been comfortable asking in front of a class.  

What is it like to be a Black and female student at St. Joe’s?

Growing up, I was in a soccer league that was in a predominantly white neighborhood. I grew up with a lot of Black people, so I guess [my dad] wanted to make sure I had experience being around people who are different from me. When I came to St. Joe’s, I joined the rowing team, and I was the only Black person on the team. I definitely noticed it, but I didn’t feel different. But, sometimes, some things that they might be accustomed to, I definitely did not do in high school. I personally haven’t had any negative experiences. I think I just noticed things that I didn’t have the opportunity to get in high school or things that were never thrown my way because of where I was from.

Why is practicing intersectional feminism important?

Being intersectional in feminism lets me express myself in different ways. With fitness, I track it back to my African culture and with the different foods I eat. I am on the track team now, and every person on there, even though we are all females, we are all different. Having diversity on campus and within feminism brings something else to the table where we all can learn from one another. 

After you graduate, what do you hope to leave behind as the president of SJU Naturals?

I definitely want to leave behind a strong foundation for people to continue the work in the club and just making sure that safe space is still continued. Also, that cool events are still planned and we’re still tying in different cultures, like doing Tai Chi events, not just to doing things we are accustomed to. It’s important to step outside the box and find new ways to promote health. 

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