By Gabriella Pinos
“My passion is people,” said Jefferson Noel, candidate for Student Government Association President at Biscayne Bay Campus.
Noel, a graduate student studying Global Strategic Communications, wants to put the students first if he becomes SGA president at BBC. His role as senator of communication and journalism in the council, he says, has given him insight on the needs of his peers—from advising to career opportunities.
“At the end of the day, we serve as the students’ representatives,” said Noel. “My ideal student government is us specifically finding out their interests and working on their behalf.”
Noel said his undergraduate education in communication arts has improved his ability to understand people from various backgrounds, especially in the FIU community. He uses the skills he learned in classes (such as international business communication, intercultural communication and interpersonal communication) to lead effectively in SGA-BBC.
“I interact with different groups and different cultures on an almost daily basis, so taking those classes, understanding nonverbal and understanding how to communicate with them better has definitely helped me as a leader,” said Noel.
Jonathan Espino, sophomore and candidate for vice president of SGA, also shares a passion for the student population. The criminal justice and psychology major is currently the housing senator at BBC and lives in Bayview, BBC’s student housing, where he interacts with students on a personal level.
“I love people with all my heart and soul, so being able to learn about them and what they think are some issues on campus really opened my eyes,” said Espino.
Espino also wants to create programs and workshops for environmental sustainability in FIU. He says that, with projects such as BBC’s Mangrove Wall and Reflexology Path, his campaign can leave a lasting impact and a smaller carbon footprint on campus.
“If there’s one thing I want students to take away from my vice presidency, it would be the importance of nature and the importance of taking care of yourself,” said Espino. “If they’re struggling, they should know that there are resources here to help.”
Likewise, Modesto Maidique Campus’ SGA candidates, Jose Sirven and Sabrina Rosell, also want to advocate for students through their programs. They base their campaign on safety, affordability and student needs, which are the principles of their political party, FIYou.
“FIYou has been here for a while already, and I think that we’re seeing the fruit of the foundation that was laid down years ago,” said Rosell. “It’s not dependent on another election or another president coming in, but the impact it will make will carry on through and leave a legacy that will help students.”
As the current Secretary of Government Relations at MMC, Rosell is running for SGA vice president at MMC and has been advocating for student success since her start at FIU. The political science major said her background allows her to understand sound policy and the impact the student body has on public office.
“My focus has always been advocacy at the local, state and federal level,” said Rosell. “A lot of it has been more external work, but with the passion of making sure that students are receiving the benefits that they need.”
Running alongside Rosell for MMC student body president is Jose Sirven, current SGA vice president at MMC and a junior majoring in international relations. Sirven said that Rosell’s team-focused, individualized attitude complements his meticulous, detail-oriented personality.
“Sabrina is very articulate, and I’m very passionate,” said Sirven. “Our leadership styles mesh well together.”
Noel and Espino have shared a similar relationship throughout their time in SGA. As Speaker of the Senate at BBC, Espino has led Noel, the current speaker pro tempore, in the past. Noel said their positions of leadership have created a great relationship between the two.
“In my time working with him, he is very genuine and authentic,” said Noel. “I know that, as we become the leaders of the executive branch of SGA, we want to take that passion for the people and give it to the students.”
In all, both the MMC and BBC candidates believe in putting the student first. Their vision for the University include policies such as: mental health awareness, student transportation outside of campus, emergency aid programs and career planning opportunities.
Sirven hopes his efforts to improve FIU will not only help students in need, but will create a better tomorrow for future Panthers.
“We want to be that one little stone in the big, beautiful statue that FIU is going to be in the future,” said Sirven.