Q&A with SGA senator of education

     SGA’s new senator of education is Florence Jathanna, a second-year graduate student in the College of Education. She is working to obtain her master’s in leadership with a concentration in student affairs and higher education.  

     Jathanna described her degree as “the inner operational studies of the workings of the university and university systems, along with any kind of higher education that doesn’t just stop at university.” 

     Jathanna spoke about her position on SGA and what her goals are for next semester.  

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

What does your position entail? 

     I would be representing the College of Education on Senate for the Student Government Association. So, I guess in terms of just what the position entails, generally outside of what I personally would like to bring to it, it’s just representing the interests of the College of Education and how those align specifically with the bills introduced to the Senate.  

     And so, speaking on behalf of those students and representing those students who are participating in our majors as offered by the College of Education. Then also, just me personally, I would like to bring a perspective of operation because I know that the students that are on SGA don’t necessarily have a thorough insight of some of the reasons the university makes the decisions that they make.  

     A lot of the bills that are presented to [senate] are almost reactive to those decisions. And so, I would I think my purpose mostly is to provide them with that insight, were that to make a difference. And even if it didn’t, that’s okay. I just think having context is very important. 

How did you decide to join SGA and what was the process like? 

     So, I actually work in the department of Student Life as a graduate assistant for student activities. And I previously worked pretty closely with our Director of Student Engagement Stephen Cucchiara and my involvement in Student Life was pretty limited too. 

     I’m a club leader for several organizations, both cultural and like education based, and then also student activities with my job but through talking to Noelle San Souci when she was first hired [as SGA advisor], and just some of her experiences with student government because mine was limited and so through talking to her through some of that, she really encouraged me.  

What do you think you bring to the table for SGA/your goals? 

     I think one of the biggest things that I do bring to SGA is just context. I am very lucky to be in a program that offers me a wide, wide range of knowledge about our university specifically and then from there broadly, the CU system and then from there, just higher education. America generally makes the decisions that they do, and I’m very passionate about it. So, I love studying about it outside of that as well. It’s something that I want to do for the rest of my life.  

     I think with these people who have such like a huge drive to make a difference at our university, in terms of all sorts of things, sustainability, multicultural affairs, like all sorts of things, I want to be able to as a graduate student, as someone who has helped with student life for so long and provide them with one’s context and the tools to do these things.  

How has your experience in SGA been thus far? 

     I think it’s great. They [SGA] are very open. I appreciate that when they say, “Okay, it’s time for the public members to speak.” Both times where I’ve spoken as a member of the public and not a member of the Senate, they have been very, very kind to me. They have been open to the suggestions that I’m bringing.  

     They don’t necessarily need to take my input into account when making these decisions because I have not been trained in what they have been trained in. Now I have, but previously I hadn’t thought about these comments. So, I appreciated their openness to my input. I thought that that was really awesome.  

     That’s why, a huge part of why, I wanted to get this training and get involved more specifically and intentionally is because I know that that openness would continue on when I was on the committee as well.  

Is there anything you would like the UCCS community to know that hasn’t already been discussed?  

     So, I think it’s important for the community to know that students really are at the center of all of the decisions that are made not only by the Student Government Association, but also broadly the decisions that the university makes. And that sounds like I’m like pedaling them, but I promise it’s something that I had to learn and humble myself to understand the hard ways.  

     So just any election that comes out, you know just taking like those 45 extra seconds along with the fun free shirt and the candy to be like, “Okay, is this a person that I really want representing me or is this something that I agree with that I would like to align myself with,” and just being the slightest bit more intentional and remembering that the people that are involved in this association are doing the things that they’re doing because of and for us.  

 UCCS Senator of Education, Florence Jathanna. Photo courtesy of Jathanna.