Many students come to college with the intention to join a club or organization – journalism buffs jump at the chance to write for the student newspaper, biology majors are anxious to put their minds together in a sustainability club and future insurance agents can’t wait to dive into professional societies. But with more than 60 clubs and organizations at The University of Olivet to choose from, students don’t always flock to the Student Government Association (SGA). Here’s the thing – they should.
How many times have you heard a student say they wished something was different? They wish dining hours were longer or there was more to do on Saturday nights, but how many really make a difference? Few to none. That’s one thing Student Government President Nataliya Malaydakh has set out to change during her first semester in the roll. Nataliya is an international student from Ukraine with her career goals set in government relations, potentially serving as a diplomat. For now, she’s focusing her passion on SGA, building her skills and gaining experience representing the needs of others.
“SGA gives students the power to create the change they wish to see on campus,” Nataliya said. “For me, that’s about improving communication between all the clubs and organizations and creating a stronger student body that supports each other.”
In her role, Nataliya plans and leads weekly meetings for the SGA leadership board and monthly general sessions where representatives from every group on campus come together to discuss their needs and goals. A primary role of SGA is to determine how its budget is spent, deciding which clubs and organizations should receive funds to help offset the cost of supplies and events.
Nataliya knows the leadership skills she hones in SGA will benefit her future career, but she’s also on a mission to leave OC better than when she arrived. It wasn’t too many years ago that the SGA had lost its voice as the advocate for the The University of Olivet student body. Thanks to the strong support of President Steven M. Corey, Ph.D., since he joined the college in 2010, Nataliya – and those who came before her – are leading the regrowth of the organization. One of her key strategies is to recruit a leadership board who share her passion.
Nataliya’s right hand is vice president Alissa Belcastro, who holds membership in a fair share of OC groups, including the boxing team and Nu Gamma Xi sorority. While assisting Nataliya in leading SGA, Alissa’s primary goal is helping SGA members develop their leadership skills. She’s presently organizing a trip for SGA leaders to attend the Chicago Student Government Training Conference that focuses on leadership skills, team collaboration and networking.
“I joined SGA last year to explore what it was about and find ways to get my voice out there,” Alissa explained. “I decided to run for vice president this year to continue helping SGA grow and improve. I’ve learned a lot through the development process and am excited to be a leader and make a difference on campus. I’ve learned a lot about the importance of delegation.”
Junior Jeff Humphrey has served as student activities liaison, focusing his passion on creating a fun and inviting campus community. For him, the individual growth he has experienced in a leadership role is just a bonus; his real goal is showing students that their voice matters and is heard. “I decided to get involved in SGA because I wanted to fight for what students wanted and required from The University of Olivet. I always tell the students of The University of Olivet that every time the SGA election cycle occurs, you the students are my priorities,” Jeff explained. “Joining SGA has been very beneficial to my life. Being a part of SGA taught me good leadership skills. My experience has allowed me to develop my interpersonal skills as well. I have even learned how to plan, organize, and put on a new event that had never been done at The University of Olivet – Religious Inclusion Day. All in all, joining SGA has been very beneficial to my personal development.”
The SGA leadership board is completed with treasurer Raphaela Birtulescu, secretary Kyrie Bostic and class representatives, including freshman Brooklyn Holley. All underclassmen, they collectively agree SGA has been the door to launching their college journey. Creating strong foundations of involvement, leadership, dedication and hard work as soon as they stepped foot on campus are opportunities that would be nearly unattainable at larger universities.
“I really like being the person my peers express themselves to,” Kyrie explained. “I came from a large high school where our voices weren’t heard and having this opportunity to be heard is amazing. I was a little overwhelmed being away from home for the first time, but being a member of SGA and many other clubs and teams is what has really helped me enjoy the experience.”
“SGA is a great way to earn real-world experience and build connections across campus,” Raphaela added.
“It’s awesome I’m involved with SGA my first semester here,” Brooklyn chimed in. “I can’t wait to build a strong foundation for my next three years.”
Learn the many ways you can become a leader at The University of Olivet by contacting the Office of Admissions at 800.456.7189 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out all of the clubs and organizations at OC.