In my opinion, one of the most challenging things a person can do is present themselves in front of a group of people to woo them. To woo is defined by the Oxford dictionary as, “seeking the favor, support, or custom of.” Yet every year, a group of students align into pairs and prepare themselves for the Student Government Association (SGA) campaign and election season.
For my first two years of college, I did not understand what these roles meant on our campus or why students desired to hold them. These students present their strengths, ideas, and goals in front of the entire campus and then watch the polls each day in hopes of receiving the most votes. Honestly, I thought it was a little demeaning at first. But it was not until this year, my junior year, that it finally made sense.
Being more involved in the campus than I previously have, I have come to learn about what students are looking for in our school and campus life. This was through my work in several departments on campus which had given me opportunities to meet new people and friends.
With some encouragement from friends and my ideas on what I felt needed to be changed, I signed myself up for the 2022 election running as Vice President. An array of emotions came out of this from overwhelming excitement to unthinkable fear.
Spoiler Alert: I lost.
As I continue, I will be incorporating the experiences and opinions of Sydney Luttrell, current Junior, Liberal Studies major, and Theology minor. She currently holds several positions on campus including Residence Assistant for Laguna Hall, Chair Role of the Liberal Studies Program, and the Visit and Event Intern of the Office of Admissions. Sydney ran for SGA President in 2021 during her sophomore year. She lost as well, but we share a great amount in common from what we learned.
As I had previously mentioned, many emotions were felt. I was ecstatic to have found a running mate, Jadyn Johnson, who was equally supportive to me as I was to him. I was also joyful to see how many of my friends had their excitement when I announced I was running. This election taught me that Vanguard University is full of some of the most supportive people I have met.
Luttrell mentioned in her interview, “It was overwhelming to me, to see the amount of people that voted for us and the people that would text or dm us saying that were voting for us because they did not have to do that, and it was cool seeing the random people that I was able to reach.”
Yet, it was not always positive emotions. There was nervousness, anxiety, and many instances of second-guessing myself. A part of the campaign is being vulnerable. You are displaying yourself for your skill sets, intelligence, and drive for change. When approaching people, you do not know, you are selling yourself in hopes of getting votes.
I am proud of myself for my accomplishments, but I still had thoughts of not being good enough. It was not until after the election that I realized this was the wrong mindset to have.
I learned that what mattered was that I tried in the first place. Just because I lost, does not mean I am not good enough.
When I asked Luttrell why she ran, she explained, “Why not just see what happens? And if it does not happen then I will just apply for other positions because I know that I will have my heart in all of them. It was seeing where God wanted to put me.”
In reality, God will place us exactly where he wants us. It was not that I was not good enough for the position, but that God knew there was somewhere else meant for me.
For Luttrell, she became a Resident Assistant for Laguna Hall and she mentioned, “It has been the most amazing role and it has been fun talking to my residents about the loss. If I did not lose, I would not be where I am today, and that Idea terrifies me.”
As for myself, I applied for several other leadership roles on campus and am delighted to be next year’s Vice President of Communication for SGA. Although I have not started, this role has responsibilities that I love to do. I get to create content and run the SGA social media account, which is what I currently do for the Office of Global Education and Outreach. I get to continue to develop my social media skills and navigate creating content with a theme different from what I have previously done.
Not only was running in the election perspective-changing, but it was also fun. I ran through the halls of Catalina, Newport, and Balboa, knocking on every door witnessing the confused and shocked faces of students as I asked them to vote. I got to prepare a speech and answer several questions at the Night of Speeches which allowed me to be creative but also practice my professionalism. It was thrilling to get reactions from students including their “oohs, aahs, and wows” when they liked something that they heard. The election was competitive, intense, and hype.
I highly recommend that students run in these elections. We need students who are on fire for Vanguard, and the growth and progress of our student body.
When asked if she would recommend other students to run for SGA, Luttrell responded with, “Yes. I think there is something so beautiful just about the process. Being able to find someone that you are both passionate about the school and want to advocate for and support the students. I think it would be amazing if next year we had like five or more people running. Just being able to show that we have a wide variety of students that are wanting to help represent and share that voice.”
As for advice for those who decide to run in the future. I would say picking your partner is incredibly important. You want to run alongside someone who is going to assist in making your ideas and visions come to life, as well as push you to your fullest potential. It should be a friend who you work well with all while having to enjoy your time together.
In addition, do research before the election. Hone in exactly what your vision is. Find those specific areas of campus life that you want to change or improve. Students want to hear physical examples of what you will do for them.
Also, take the election seriously, but not too seriously. It may be important to you, but do not let it take over your life. Do not let it keep you up at night or stress you out but allow it to be enjoyable. Get good nights of sleep, keep up on your homework, and spend time with friends. Campaign when you can, make content when you are free to do so, and appreciate meeting new people.
As for Luttrell, her main piece of advice is, “To be yourself. It is cliche but it is really the truth. If you are going up there and you are just talking as if it is a conversation, you would have individually with everyone it is going to come off so much more authentic and caring.”
I know that the election for the 2022-2023 SGA officers is about a year away, but I would suggest considering this article when it comes closer in time. You are only in college for four years, take a chance at making a difference at Vanguard while you still can. You will learn so much from the experience and learn more about yourself than you think.