Posted May 20, 2010 Atlanta, GA
Student Government Association Sets An Agenda Of Change
Change is afoot within the ranks of Georgia Tech’s student leadership. The slate of newly elected graduate and undergraduate student government presidents and vice presidents is set on innovating the Institute’s approach to communication and collaboration. Instrumental in nearly every aspect of Institute policy, operations, academics, and student life, the Student Government Association’s newest leaders are motivated to change the Institute through personal experiences, but readily acknowledge their goals are achievable only with the help of their fellow Yellow Jackets.
Hailing from Albany, Georgia, Undergraduate Student Government (USGA) President Corey Boone is a third-year management major and aspiring human rights attorney. A love of advocacy was a key factor in his decision to run for USGA president. “I wanted to be president because I felt that my experiences here have prepared me to be a strong advocate for students,” said Boone. “I also felt that there exists so much potential to better the student experience here. I knew at my core that it was something that I needed to do, and I am so glad that the students agree.” Though he is confident in his mission, Boone remains grounded in his respect for his fellow students. “I'm honored to serve in this position. If anyone had told me three years ago that I would be student body president, I wouldn't have believed them.”
During his presidency, Boone wants “to create an enriched student experience that brings us together as a community and moves us beyond the year-to-year issues that continually weigh us down.” This includes “a more transparent student government through restructuring our communications board, better faculty/student relationship through an Institute-wide mentoring program, lengthened dining hours at our Student Center and increased collaboration amongst student organizations through incentives for collaboration,” as well as the completion of the student portal initiative.
Ironically, Boone “had no intentions of coming to Georgia Tech,” but decided to visit campus after listening to Leslie Jackson, a Georgia Tech alumna and assistant director of special recruitment, speak about her Georgia Tech experience. “I toured the campus and knew immediately that Georgia Tech was the right fit for me. This campus is so rich with tradition, yet it sits in the heart of the most progressive city in the South. I couldn't think of a better fit.”
Joining Boone on his mission to improve the student experience is Brenda Morales-Pico, the executive vice president (EVP) of undergraduate student government. “I am extremely honored to be serving Georgia Tech in this capacity and am looking forward to working with the new representatives and the executive cabinet, in addition to the administration, to enrich the student experience at Georgia Tech,” she said.
In her role, Morales-Pico will concentrate on “encouraging and inspiring [student] representatives to do the best that they can in serving as a voice for their constituents and as accountable and responsible stewards of their Student Activity Fee. I feel that one of the best ways that I can do this is to provide representatives with the tools and the training that they need in order to do their jobs well.” She also hopes “to ensure that student priorities are advanced on campus and on the state level, and that the student opinion is given weight and consideration in every decision that is made on this campus.”
Since arriving at Georgia Tech by way of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Norcross, Georgia, Morales-Pico has been actively engaged in numerous SGA committees as well as in undergraduate research and the Alpha Delta Pi sorority. These experiences gave the biochemistry major with a French minor a sense of the relationship between student leadership and the value of her degree as well as the motivation to run for office. “The (student) representatives really serve as the liaison between the student body and the Student Government. In a sense, the House is also a training ground for many students who eventually go on to take other leadership positions, and I would like to ensure that we continue our legacy of strong leadership at Georgia Tech,” she explained.
While Morales-Pico hopes to attend medical school after graduation, she is certain that her time at Georgia Tech will have been a wise investment in her future. “I ultimately chose to attend Georgia Tech because of its reputation for excellence and its great value. I knew a degree from Georgia Tech would have the same – if not more – value than a degree from the other universities that I was considering.”
Representing the graduate student body will be Anthony Baldridge, Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) president. He is a fourth-year graduate student in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry, hails from Blue Ridge, Georgia, and plans to pursue a career in academia. While active in Graduate Student Government for the past three years, Baldridge “wanted to become more involved to help make a difference at Tech.”
Among his priorities, Baldridge hopes “to facilitate communication amongst graduate students so that significant campus events are conveyed to the graduate body,” particularly decisions related to health insurance. “Additionally, there will be a focus on grad student professional development with the [annual] career event held in March and the graduate student research symposium held in February,” he said.
Baldridge sees students as key drivers of change, especially graduate student government. “[GSAG’s] most significant charge is to be the student voice to the administration and convey the issues of students.” He hopes to increase student involvement in the organizations. “SGA truly is a great opportunity for any graduate student on campus,” he said. “The initiatives that we pursue truly affect the entire student body.”
Kathy Schnure, the new EVP of GSGA, shares Baldridge’s concern for improved communications between students and the administration. “As the graduate population at Tech continues to grow, it is becoming increasingly important for the graduate voice to be heard,” said Schnure. “Graduate students have a unique set of needs and concerns, and Graduate Student Government exists to ensure those needs and concerns are heard by the administration.”
Previously serving as a graduate senator as well as a member of many committees, Schnure has already accomplished a great deal in her three years as a doctoral student in industrial and organizational psychology. “I've been a senator since my first year, and I've served as the director of the Graduate Conference Fund and a member of the executive committee for the last two years,” said Schnure. Looking ahead, she hopes to improve “communication of policies, events, and generally important information to graduate students, [and conduct] a reassessment of our current health insurance provider. In addition, we'll be working to expand gtRIC, the Graduate Career Fair, and other events in the coming year.”
This experience will likely prepare the Chicago-area native for her future career. “After finishing my PhD, I'd like to work on selection, assessment, or organizational effectiveness within a large corporation or a consulting firm,” she said.