There are times in our collegiate careers where we can point to a certain event or circumstance in which we stop and say "that is when my life in college began." For me it was the beginning of my sophomore year when I joined the Student Senate. I was hesitant about it during my first year on Oyaron Hill and for that I will always regret it. While in high school I was a part of our student government for two years and have always been drawn to student participation in school. While I was all settled into my room in Oyaron Hall I jumped at the opportunity to run for the Senate position on Hall Council. The next three years would be a complete turnaround in my outlook towards college thanks to my time on the Senate.
When it comes to civic engagement there tends to be a clear dividing line between those who are there for the betterment of their community; and those who are only there for the betterment of themselves. While there were a few senators who were mainly there to better themselves, the beauty of my time on the Senate was that I was able to work with an outstanding group of senators who joined to enhance the experience of Hartwick's students. Discussions and debates over subjects regarding the hooding ceremony, the inclusion of a coffee shoppe on campus and even the Campaign for Hartwick Students were nothing below professional. We engaged in fruitful discussions that shed many a light on issues and topics on campus that may not have been brought forward if not for At-Large of Hall Council Senators bringing them on the docket from their constituents. I was thoroughly surprised at how passionate my fellow senators were over certain issues and how fervent they were willing to defend them. There were many a Tuesday night in which tensions and emotions ran high over controversial subjects yet there have always been strong Vice Presidents who controlled the room (the Vice President runs the meeting for those who don't know).
As my sophomore year wound down I was grateful to be honored with the Emerging Leader Award during the Student Leadership Awards Ceremony. I put my time in during the year, showed up to every meeting and made myself available when volunteer opportunities arose. I did so because I firmly believed that what Student Senate does is beneficial for the campus as a whole. Many students on campus fail to realize the impact that Senate has beyond just club and organization budgets. It is events like Taste of Wick, Clean Up Oneonta, Hawks Night Fever and student busses that are purchased to go and support the many Hartwick Athletic teams that make it to the NCAA tournament. The Student Senate was created to bridge a gap between the students and the administration; and if not utilized the right way then updates that the student body needs or deserves may not be addressed. My three years saw a fantastic leap in student issues being addressed and student life vastly improved.
My Junior year I was appointed as Vice-Chair to the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs under Ari Conrad. It was a magnificent learning experience as it prepped me to take on the role during my senior year. That year I had the pleasure of working with an outstanding Executive Board who absolutely wanted nothing more than the betterment of the Hartwick student experience on campus. Coordinator of Clubs/Organizations Amanda Robinson, Treasurer Matt Piedmonte, Vice President Will Shultz, President Katie Meuer, Secretary Lauren Smouse and Coordinator(s) of Student Life Jeromy Slaby and Lauren O'Brien. You all were tremendous friends and coworkers and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with you all. We may not have always been dealt the best of cards in terms of finances or prior mishandling's but we all were able to work through them with a strong group cohesiveness and enthusiasm. Our Monday E-Board meetings were some of my best memories with you all; whether it was discussing important issues, structuring the next day's meeting or just generally joking around. I still look back fondly on all those meetings, bonding trips and dinners at President Drugovich's house (a special thank you to Margaret & Beth for so graciously welcoming us into their home once a month) as some of my best memories together. You all truly made it an unforgettable experience as an Executive Board member.
I would like to also give a special thank you to three women who devoted much of their time to our careers as student senators; Megan Fallon, Alicia Bates and Dr. Meg Nowak. As our Senate advisors you all were willing to give up an hour, sometimes over two hours of your time every Tuesday night to sit in and guide our meetings. You three were always willing to help shepherd us all without taking over, letting us maneuver through the docket of often times very difficult topics of discussion. Each of you had such a welcoming open door policy that encouraged us all to seek you three out in times of trouble or tribulation; so thank you you all once again. And now to those current students who are on the edge about whether or not you would like to join Student Senate or not. I say, give it a try and see where your passions lie. If you truly would like to make a difference on campus, help continue bridging the gap between the students and administration or are looking to broaden your intellectual horizons, then Senate is the perfect fit for you. The friends you will make, the relationships you build with school faculty, administration, Board of Trustees and alumni is unfathomable. Senate will prepare you for a professional career in the future by forcing you to adequately debate others with different opinions, how to work in group settings and give you the opportunity for networking. To the countless friends and colleagues I made over my three years on Student Senate, I say thank you for making each day working with you a Great Day to be a Hawk.