Meet Your New SGA Officers and Senators! (Part I of II)
By Marie Jacinto
Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.
— John F. Kennedy
With learning before leading as their guide, UHD’s newly elected Student Government Association (SGA) officers spent a busy first week of 2023. All four officers and four senators were sworn in by Dean of Students Dr. Meritza Tamez on Wednesday, Jan. 4, with friends and family cheering them on at a special inauguration dinner. President Blanchard shared that he looks forward to these students’ progress as they build leadership skills on an individual basis, playing a role in their success as students and later as leaders in their professions and communities.
Not wasting any time, the Friday after their inauguration, all officers attended a mandatory orientation hosted by SGA Advisor Eugene Bernard to get them started on the right foot. “Although the SGA is a student-led organization,” said Bernard, “it’s in the best interest of the University and these new student leaders to educate them not only about their organization, but also about the inner workings of the University.”
Gallup Certified Strengths coaches (University of Houston’s Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs-Student Life Keith Kowalka and Director for the Center of Sorority and Fraternity Life Ja’Nelle King) kicked off the training with CliftonStrengths activities to get the officers familiar with each other and discover the strengths in one another.
Following their strengths activities, all SGA officers participated in a photo and video shoot with UHD’s University Relations photography/video team, and the end result will soon be on monitors through our Campus Community. During lunch, the officers garnered in-depth knowledge about how the University functions from presentations by the Office of the Dean of Student Life, Office of Title IX, Events, and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion. Following the presentations, the team dived into the UHD SGA constitution, bylaws, rules, and the expectations during their tenure.
The officers shared that the training was a great start to their work in SGA. They appreciated the guidance of UHD leadership and enjoyed getting to know how divisions collaborate to achieve success at UHD. “Wow, I had no idea how nice you all are,” said Camila Pardomo, SGA Vice President.
A regional/national speed skating champion, Camila was born in Bogota, Colombia. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was seven as political refugees because of her father’s political background, settling in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Not surprising, Camila aspires to be an international lawyer working on behalf of refugees through the United Nations. A junior, Camila chose UHD because she “had a gut feeling that the school would work well for me and my personal goals.”
SGA President Jesus Nieto is a strong advocate for student involvement, having served as an inaugural Social Gator, a Peer Mentor through the Gator Success Center, and a UHD Gator Crew member. He wants to continue his education (a Political Science degree with minors in Communications and Public Administration & Policy) after graduation by earning a doctoral degree in Public Affairs/Administration or attending law school. His ultimate goal is to work in the White House.
A native of Houston, Jesus followed in his mother’s footsteps. “Seeing her graduate from this institution gave me the courage to come to UHD and pursue a degree.” Now in his senior year, Jesus appreciates how “the diverse students, staff, and faculty come together to create an amazing melting pot of networking opportunities to propel students forward.”
“I am thrilled to work with such an outstanding group of students,” said Bernard. “Our new SGA officers and senators bring a unique perspective to the organization and will serve our diverse student population well. Together they have a positive synergy and are eager to serve the Gator community.”
Meet more SGA Officers in the next edition of UHD News!
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates more than 15,000 students, boasts more than 64,000 alumni, and offers 46 bachelor’s degrees, 11 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences & Technology. For the fourth consecutive year, U.S. News & World Report ranks UHD among universities across the nation for Best Online Criminal Justice Programs (No. 27 and No. 15 for Veterans) and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. UHD has the most affordable tuition among four-year universities in Houston and one of the lowest in Texas. U.S. News ranked the University among Top Performers on Social Mobility and awarded UHD a No. 1 ranking as the most diverse institution of higher education in the southern region of the U.S. The University is noted nationally as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Minority-Serving Institution, and Military Friendly School. For more on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit www.uhd.edu.