AC’s student body has never had an all-female leadership team – until now

Having some form of elected student leadership has been a time-honored Amarillo College tradition since its very founding in 1929.

Yet throughout its many iterations, from Class Officers at the outset, to Student Council in the mid-1900s, to the Student Government Association (SGA) of today, there has never been an all-female leadership team on record – until now.

For the first time, AC’s student body will operate under the auspices of a leadership team comprised solely of women, each of whom was duly elected last spring to serve throughout the 2023-24 academic year.

“I think this is a big stepping stone for AC,” Leah Aviles, the new SGA treasurer, said. “It shows how diverse and equitable the College can be; it shows how equal the genders really are.”

Seven discerning women comprise the SGA leadership team. In addition to Aviles, they are: Sophia Velazquez, president; Makayla Caudillo, vice president; Karime Vargas, secretary; Jocelyn Baca, parliamentarian; Maiya Maldonado, historian; and Chit Pyu, leadership and development chair.

The SGA represents the student body in all matters to the Board of Regents, the administration and the faculty. Additionally, it places particular emphasis on developing a constant stream of fun and educational student programming in creative, intellectual, cultural and social settings.

“I think it’s really exciting that we have the first all-women leadership team,” Jenna Welch, coordinator of Student Life and SGA sponsor, said. “These women were elected by their peers, and I believe they are prepared to promote inclusion by fostering a sense of belonging that empowers all the students of AC.”

The new leaders meet weekly throughout the summer and have wasted no time rolling up their sleeves and mapping out plans for the year ahead. Among their primary objectives is to ensure that all students, regardless of their background or circumstances, have access to student programming.

“As president, my hope is to help students get more involved in the College,” Velazquez said. “We want to help everyone make connections and make the most of their experiences at AC – to find the comfort zones they’re looking for.”

Velazquez admits that she strayed a bit out of her own comfort zone while considering a run for SGA president – “I was actually terrified,” she said – until she received a vital pep talk from outgoing president Marcus Benefield.

“Marcus encouraged me to go for it,” Velazquez said. “He was a huge inspiration and gave me confidence. Now my plan is to lead SGA in the right direction. Of course, with the other great leaders on the team, I won’t be doing it alone.”

Among the team’s objectives is the enhancement of outreach to sometimes underserved online students (being out of sight tends to put them out of mind), and to dual credit students, high schoolers enrolled in AC classes who will be invited to more on-campus events.

“By encouraging dual credit students to visit our campuses for SGA events, it helps connect them to the College for when they enroll here as freshman,” said Makayla Caudillo, the vice president, who lends continuity to the leadership team by having served in the same office throughout the previous academic year.

“We’re also making an effort this year to serve both traditional and non-traditional students equally,” she said. “And we plan on having a lot more family friendly events so that our students who also are parents will want to bring their kids to campus to participate.”

The current leadership team knows it’s got a tough act to follow: AC was named SGA Chapter of the Year and overall “Sweepstakes” winner at the Texas Junior College Student Government Association’s state convention last spring.

“They’re still working out details, but they’ve already got a lot planned for the fall semester,” Welch said. “I’m confident that this leadership team will find a way to overcome any obstacles it may face and carry on the tradition of SGA excellence here at AC.”

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post