When Student Government (SG) President Cesar Hernandez, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences, took office in May, he said his vision was to run his administration on “open dialogue,” “awareness” and “greatness.”
“The only thing we promised was reform and taking the University to another level, and we are going to be held accountable (to) that,” Hernandez said after his inauguration. “Every minute is precious to us.”
To begin fulfilling that promise, Hernandez has elected a new attorney general, a chief financial officer and three director positions, approved by a Senate majority, for the 2010-11 school year. Hernandez said he would like to have all positions filled by the end of the summer.
Janet Rojas, the newly appointed SG attorney general and a senior double majoring in political science and women’s studies, has served as deputy attorney general for two years.
A self-professed “understanding and respectful leader,” Rojas said she tries to lend a helping hand to fellow SG members whenever she can to help accomplish a shared initiative: serving the students.
“I think that everyone needs to learn to work together,” Rojas said. “We’re here to exercise our leadership skills and learn to compromise with each other.”
Rojas, who said she sees herself as a resource and a “mediator among (SG) branches,” has been involved with student governments since elementary and high school. She said she has always seen it as a “diverse organization” that represents the many facets of the student body.
“I love coming in to work every day and figuring out who I can help today,” Rojas said. “I love SG because of what it can do for the University.”
In her new position, Rojas will examine bills passed by the Senate to ensure that they do not violate any SG statutes, will represent the prosecution in the judicial branch’s court cases and will enforce SG’s governing documents, she said. Rojas will also serve as a resource to the senate to clarify statutes or enforce those that have been passed.
Sarah Shoffner’s main asset as the new director of Student Life and Traditions will be her keen eye for detail in programming events, she said.
To begin working on those events, Shoffner, who served as an SG senator her freshman year and as coordinator in the Department of Student Life and Traditions for the past two years, said she has begun to ask incoming students one question: what are they looking for in their experience at USF?
The junior majoring in dance and business management said she hopes their answer will be to get involved in USF’s community and be a part of student life – the goal of her department.
“I’m passionate about what I do because I truly enjoy it,” Shoffner said. “USF allows its students to become involved in shaping its future. Every student here has the opportunity to help set traditions and stepping stones for future Bulls.”
Shoffner, who said she has helped “plan and execute every event and program in the SG office,” said her department exists to “give back” to students and help fulfill their needs.
Joseph Anastasio, the new Director of University and Community Affairs, describes himself as the “personified image” of a USF Bull. Anastasio, who served as the SG deputy supervisor of elections last year and is a graduate student at USF, said his involvement with SG has allowed him to reflect on what it means to be a part of this university. His department will “advocate for students who normally wouldn’t be heard,” he said, by speaking and lobbying on their behalf.
“SG is here for the students, and when the students don’t know that, it bothers me,” Anastasio said. “If I look back at our term and people say we did nothing, then we didn’t do our jobs.”
He said that this year SG is getting things done – and having fun doing it.
Ivan Gil, the new director of Marketing, is a senior majoring in marketing with two years experience as a graphic designer and the SG associate director of Marketing and Communications already under his belt.
Gil describes himself in two ways: motivated for the experiences and career opportunities SG brings his way and having an open mind to new ideas.
“My job is to go to the students and tell them what SG is doing, what their services are and why SG is here,” Gil said. “That way, they have a good understanding that they should be using our services because they do pay for them.”
He said his main goal for the year is to “increase awareness of SG services and initiatives,” by providing more marketing and promotional opportunities.
“My experience with SG is beyond anything I could have imagined, and that’s why I love it,” Gil said. “I constantly try to find ways to improve communication among the branches, and it’s just further motivation for me to be better.”
Zach Johnson, the newly appointed chief financial officer, volunteered with SG for a year and was appointed the deputy chief financial officer last year.
Johnson, a senior majoring in chemical engineering, said his job will be to offer advice on financial matters to both SG and student organizations with an “energetic and fun-loving” approach.
“I’ve always been involved in student organizations,” Johnson said. “Once you get involved, they lead you to new opportunities, new adventures to get involved in.”
It was his involvement through volunteering with friends that eventually led Johnson to SG.
“This university offers more than just the classroom,” he said. “(USF offers) huge opportunities that just keep giving back.”