Nicole Aguiar/Staff Writer
Yisel Rivera, an international relations sophomore, and 54 other students became the first “swagged out” members of Students With a Goal last September and plan to continue their legacy this fall. SWAG is a Student Government Association organization whose goal is to help students that are looking to become involved on-campus or advance their leadership and professional skills.
“I became the leader I am today thanks to SWAG,” said Rivera. “I remember not always being in my comfort zone, but now I know I can take on any audience. SWAG gave me the confidence I needed to excel in leadership positions.”
Today, Rivera applies the skills she learned as a member to her new position as SWAG coordinator.
SWAG has an orientation open to all students today, Sept. 16, in GC 315 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. No prior registration is necessary.
The program is under SGA’s executive branch, and focuses on leadership skills and education. It was started in efforts to create a sense of openness to the student body and allow access to SGA involvement for any student.
“I felt the need to create a program that was much more available and that targeted the underclassmen, the non-affiliated, the aspiring but disenfranchised potential student leaders so that it wasn’t just an image I was shaping, but a culture I was instilling in Student Government,” said Oliver Diaz-Neda, senior public relations major.
With that vision, Diaz-Neda launched SWAG’s first orientation last September. The organization gained 55 members who were educated on the functions of SGA, professional skills like public speaking and resume writing, and given tasks where their new skills were put to the test.
During orientation, students take part in the typical icebreakers and are informed of the program’s expectations.
“[Students are taught] everything from the structure, how each individual branch works, what the available positions are and what are their roles, the basics of the [Funding and Allocations] funding process and where the program lands under that structure,” said Diaz-Neda.
SWAG is a semester-long commitment, with general meetings which include activities, guest speakers from leaders on-campus from peer advisers, student ambassadors, residential assistants and SGA officials.
“The members were constantly learning things like public speaking and how to act accordingly around leaders in the university,” said Rivera. [pullquote]“The etiquette that SWAG teaches you is unparalleled to anything I’ve ever seen before.”[/pullquote]
The program is involved in all SGA activities including surveying, tabling and events hosted or sponsored by SGA. Members also conduct face-to-face research and promote SGA events.
One member who was able to “reach her goal” last year is Nathalie De Almagro, sophomore political science major, who had no prior student leadership experience and has been elected to SWAG’s executive board.
“SWAG taught me that to whom much is given, much is expected,” De Almagro said. “As a member, you are given the opportunity to serve students and learn the basic structures, functions and purpose of SGA.”
De Almagro said this has prepared her to work in teams and as a leader.