On Sept. 30, Student Government Association (SGA) members drove to Washington D.C. to participate in the National American Student Government Association conference. Those attending included Delegate Natalie Gonzalez, Treasurer Tyler Anderson, President Mariah O’Hara, Director of Student Activities Matthew Patry, Chief Justice of College Court Hannah Locke and VP of Community Relations Emma Blaiklock.
The members attended different sessions to ensure all sessions were covered and then spent the afternoon discussing what was learned. As President, this was something really exhilarating to me, as people discussed what they learned, or wanted to bring back to campus. There were 600 students at the conference from across the country.
Blaiklock found the interactions extremely influential. She noted: “We were able to work with individuals from other schools with similar dilemmas we were facing. We were able to talk through with professional facilitators and presenters who led us down paths none of us realized we needed to venture down.”
Something we realized at the conference was Castleton University’s SGA was at a good place, thanks to our student involvement, compared to others. Anderson said, “The conference was an extremely eye opening experience about identifying what we have going for us and what we really need to work on.”
First-year delegates have been working on projects to help benefit the school. Gonzalez wrote, “The conference was a great way to help transition my role in the student body. The workshops embedded new thoughts and skills that I can use throughout my time here to help improve and expand the Castleton Community.”
By the end of the conference, I would introduce myself and people would light up when I mentioned Castleton. They wanted to meet a Castleton student because they heard what we were doing on our campus. Others wanted to see if we were voluntarily a part of Student Government. When people would ask me this question, I would say not getting paid means people who are part of our student government genuinely want to be there, and care about the students at our school. They couldn’t believe we were doing the work for free, as most of them were being paid in some form. I simply told them that is the “Castleton Way,” and something the students at our school embody. We work hard, and we work for each other. All of the members in our Student Government push themselves to see a better future for our peers.
Seeing the impact the conference had on the SGA and myself, I can assure there will be some exciting changes coming to Castleton. One thing the members have discussed, is developing a plan of action. We want to see good things happen to ensure the success of our students, and our work is benefitting them in every way possible. I look forward to seeing where our Student Government leaders go from here based on the conference. We have a lot of work to do!