If the previous semester is any indication of the challenges that follow, this year’s Student Government Association (SGA) executive board has quite the semester in front of them.
Luckily, with Gabrielle Alténor serving as president, Mac Foley as vice president, Shanice Gitungo as secretary and Martin Pham as treasurer, the student body is in good hands.
Alténor is looking forward to building a stronger relationship with the student body and addressing any and all issues that affect both students and the community as a whole.
With her fellow executive members at her side, Alténor is confident that she will be able to back her words with action. Though the fall semester has not yet begun, Alténor explains that the projects are piling up.
“I’ve basically kind of started already in my role, and it’s just me right now, so I’ve been working on a lot of the committee work that we’re trying to keep going throughout the summer so that we can start again in the fall,” she explained.
“I’ve been renewing the contracts for Genesis and the YMCA to see if they’ll give us a better deal; I’ve been working on the student center renovation; I’ve been working on our fall retreat; I’ve been working on The Becoming Initiative for the civil unrest we’ve had (recently) — it’s a three-prong approach, becoming understood, educated and transformative.”
As seen in her incredibly busy schedule, Alténor strives to uphold the importance of service as a representative of Newman students.
“I think the most important thing about SGA is that we are advocates for the students — we serve the students. It’s really important to utilize the power we have on behalf of the students, making sure that their interests are kept up with.”
Regarding service, Foley also believes that it is the duty of SGA to serve as a voice for the students and an ambassador for administration.
“I feel like there are many people that I was listening to who are not exactly happy with the things they’ve been hearing (around campus); I joined SGA because I wanted to understand their perspective and make a change. I realized that it may not be as simple as most of the students think — I wanted to bridge the gap between them.”
Alténor herself expressed a deep desire to promote unity and fluent communication, which has been her goal since she coined her campaign slogan: “New vision, new voice, same values.”
Her slogan is a living example of how she hopes to turn words into actions, as she gave a specific example of how each clause is being put into action.
New vision: “Just thinking about the student center renovation makes me want to push more initiatives of making the environment of Newman more true to our community. Through renovating the out-of-date parts of campus, we can revitalize them and make them central places for coming together — for community and fellowship with students, and I think that’s what we need a lot of since we are a mostly commuter school.”
New voice: “I want to find a way to create an official and constant stream of communication between all the students and the administration, as well as continuing to be an advocate for all students. In the past, we’ve had problems with not necessarily maintaining constant communication or having an official way to get important decisions made. Making something that is official and we know how it’s supposed to go would alleviate a lot of tension.”
Same values: “One big initiative for me is promoting things like mental and physical well-being and service to others so that we can assure both the academic and the social successes of all of our students.”
She continued by explaining that she used her campaign slogan in the production of her initiatives list, therefore ensuring that she lives up to the promises of her campaign.
Though these initiatives may seem lofty at first, the executive board is already hard at work preparing to make their dreams a reality. The four of them will be working in tandem to make this variety of feats feasible.
Both Alténor and Foley commented on how well the executive members will work together. Each of them brings a different perspective to the table.
Alténor is a St. John Henry Newman Scholar and honors student majoring in biology with minors in pre-law and Spanish. She also serves as vice president of the Black Student Union, fellowship coordinator of Future Legal Professionals of Newman University, and works as a resident assistant.
Foley is a McNeil Scholar as well as an honors student. In addition to being a First-Year Experience Leader and a Student-Athlete Advisory Committee representative, he is on the triathlon team.
Gitungo is majoring in biology (pre-med), serving as the secretary of both the Black Student Union and the Multicultural Club, in addition to being a representative for Health Equity Resources for Women.
Pham is an honors student majoring in biology (pre-med), minoring in both chemistry and communications. He is the president of the Newman University Visual Arts Club, the vice president of the Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Club, as well as a First-Year Experience Leader and peer tutor.
To reinforce the prior accomplishments and astounding competence of his fellow executives, Foley explained, “I’m super excited about Gabby’s leadership skills and her ability to represent the students. I know that Martin will do a good job as treasurer with a different perspective than the rest of us. And the same for Shanice, (who) has done great things with the Black Student Union and the Multi-Cultural Leadership Organization, so I’m super excited that she’s going to be an executive member.”
Alténor, Foley, Gitungo and Pham are all looking forward to their executive positions and each have wonderful things in store for the student body.