Women lead the SGA Executive Board

Photos by Minqi Kong and Anyssa Logan

Anna Pedreschi | Staff Writer | apedreschi@mail.smcvt.edu

The Student Government Association (SGA) executive board had been a predominantly male-led group over the years. However, the new, predominantly female board has shifted this paradigm.

SGA is integral to the student life experience at St. Michael’s College. Members of the board are responsible for event planning and serving as a liaison between students and administration. The board has ten members total, with nine who identify as women.

Kelechi “KC” Onuoha ‘23, said that becoming president of the SGA was a last-minute decision. Onuoha, like many others, spent time telling her friends how qualified they were for positions on the executive board, without reflecting on her own qualities. “I always hyped up my friends that I thought were super qualified, they were all BIPOC women, and I told them that they really need to do this,” Onuoha said. She was unaware of her talents and skills, but over time, realized that she was qualified for the role.

“I think I got the idea from the first BIPOC woman who was student body president, Vanessa Bonebo ’21, and after seeing her I thought we should continue this legacy,” Onuoha said.

Ella Saracco ’23, vice president of the SGA, has been a part of student government since her sophomore year at the college. She was originally vice president of her class. “I thought, why not take the next step,” Saracco said. Like many other people on the board, Saracco formed bonds with other board members, and this influenced her decision to run for vice president. “I met KC, who is now the president, and she told me she thought I would be great for the position, so do it,” said Saracco.

Amy Hylen ’25, co-secretary of programming, said this is her favorite leadership role to date. Hylen spends her time planning and coordinating events with several groups and clubs around campus. Hylen arrived on campus last year and had high hopes. “I was in feminist club in high school, and I have always been super passionate about women’s rights, social justice and equity and equality for everyone,” Hylen said. “I was super fortunate to have been put on the programming committee. Anna and Sierah, who had my position last year, were absolute superstars. I loved what they did so I started shadowing them, and fell in love with the role.”

Ashley DeLeon ’23, is the secretary of student life. She started in 2020 during the height of COVID-19, and experienced SGA during multiple transitions from virtual to in-person meetings. “Once things started to change with COVID, and we switched over from virtual, it became way more fun,” DeLeon said.

DeLeon’s journey with the executive board has not always been easy. “There have been many times when I reconsidered if I wanted to continue with the E-board, but getting student voices out there to create change kept me going, as well as the shift in attitude and culture within the SGA,” DeLeon said. “There was a lot of toxic masculinity at first, and I am so happy that has changed.”

Felicia Fil ’24, secretary of academics, works with the Curriculum and Education Policy Committee to work through challenges and new proposals to improve the academic atmosphere on campus. “I started getting involved with SGA when I was a freshman and a representative for ‘Fix It With Five.’ I heard of a position opening for secretary of academics and I wondered if that is something I could learn more about,” Fil said. “Since I was a sophomore, I thought I wouldn’t get it, but I went for it and ended up getting it.”

Emilie Webster ’23, secretary of athletics, said she aims to create a better community for student athletes. Webster was formerly involved in student government during high school. “I wanted to get more involved, and I first heard of this position through Shannon Murray ‘21 [former secretary of athletics],” Webster said. “When she told my team what her position did for campus, I thought it was really interesting and I applied for the job.”

Lesley Rivera ’25, secretary of student policy, works with clubs each day to make adjustments and help them improve club policies. “In high school, I was involved in student government, and I did not think I would do it in college,” Rivera said. Rivera’s decision to join the student government was spontaneous. “I was inspired to run by KC, and I was like, okay why not. So I ran for president for my class, lost one semester, and then won the next time.”

Rivera highlighted that the people she works with have made a difference in her experience on the executive board, and Onuoha influenced her to join. “She was my tour guide, and I fell in love with the school and her character,” Rivera said. If Rivera completes a full-year term as secretary of student policy, she will be the first woman, and woman of color, to hold this position.

Rivera expressed that bringing value to the board starts by recognizing and understanding someone’s potential. “We tend to belittle ourselves, so don’t. You can do so much,” she said.

Brigitte Hernandez ’23, secretary of community engagement, is also a new member of the executive board this year. Hernandez had other leadership roles in the past that inspired her to join. In high school, she served as the captain for both the cross country and track teams. “I really liked being a leader and having a team that could come to me, and I could go to for support,” she said.

Hernandez encourages people to join the board, even if they feel intimidated. “Don’t be shy, I think we are afraid to get out of our comfort zone a little bit… That is why I joined SGA, because it’s a different group of people I get to see every day and spend my time with,” she said.