Speed School Student Council Greets New Year and Challenges of Engaging Students
Sept. 29, 2020
Meet Your New Speed School Student Council (SSSC) Directors:
- President Luke Malone
- Services Vice-President Oscar Martinez
- Executive Vice-President Keeley Slade
- Operations Vice-President Samantha Islam
New President Luke Malone believes the current circumstances of COVID-19 “offer a great opportunity for SSSC because now more than ever, Student Council is essential,” he said. “Everyone is in need of a support system and for other students to be around right now. We are trying our best to bring virtual events, and now is the time for SSSC to really step up to be there for the students,” said Luke. “I think as a team we’ve risen to the challenge pretty well,” he said.
Going virtual has not stopped the momentum of SSSC. “During the summer, Student Council held a retreat where members got to know each other and discuss strategic goals. “We also held virtual general body meetings and had a forum with Student Government Association (SGA) to talk about transition to online and what fall was going to look like,” said Luke. “We had a health promotion forum about stress management and did a 15-minute meditation session. We hope to do that again this semester,” he said.
“My advice for every Speed School student is to stay tuned, follow us on social media. Speed School is still full of countless opportunities,” said Luke. “It’s a great time to take advantage of them and seize them.”
For Luke, the best part about Student Council is connecting in a broad way with the whole campus, like at last year’s E-Expo, which brings together K-12 students, faculty, staff, administrators, SS students, sponsors, companies, exhibitors and more.
“What was exciting was that in a sense I got to unite all of Speed School for a common project,” he said. “Even though this year it will be virtual and I won’t be planning it myself, I hope in all of our initiatives to do the same thing, bring SS together in every single thing we do. Now more than ever we need to be connected to each other.”
Services Vice President Oscar Martinez, a junior majoring in Industrial Engineering, said the coming Student Council year is an opportunity to revamp the service coalition program with Admissions and Outreach liaisons. “We plan on using SSSC’s connections within other RSOs (recognized student organizations) to better plan outreach efforts to high school students, middle school and elementary kids,” he said. Oscar said he wants it to be more interactive. “For example, we don’t want to just have kids sit down for a presentation, but rather see a working water infiltration system,” he said, “to give a better demonstration of what Speed School does.”
In the fall semester, Oscar said it’s been a challenge so far getting people to come out. “There are a lot of first year students who don’t know about Student Council and it’s a struggle to reach out.” He said that the SSSC has been looking at what are events or programs that can be easily transitioned to virtual. “We had a fairly successful virtual Society Picnic. It wasn’t the usual pre-COVID turnout but it was more than we expected.”
One program Oscar is working on that he hopes will continue to grow over the next semester is a service project with Ronald McDonald House, a local charity that houses families of sick children.
“They are having a pull tab collection in order to recycle for the money needed for toothpaste, sheets, blankets and other things the residents of the house need,” said Oscar. “It’s done well so far and I hope in the spring to put out collection boxes and buckets around campus.”
Oscar said that now that the SSSC has gotten through the “slight bumps” of going virtual, he’s excited for the remainder of the rest of the semester and the future. “What I most enjoy about SSSC is it’s the easiest and best way to help students. First year-students, it’s their first time on campus and they don’t know where to go, what kind of questions to ask, or who to ask,” he said. “I enjoy having this platform where I can better serve SS students and other students alike.”
Executive Vice President Keeley Slade’s passion is mentoring younger kids. “In high school, I mentored middle school and elementary school robotics teams,” she said. “I came to the SS E-Expo in high school and loved it. It made me really excited for college. I love getting to make young kids excited about STEM. If they ever hired a person where that was their entire job, that person should be me.”
A junior studying Industrial Engineering, Keeley is helping plan this year’s E-Expo. “It’ll still be kids K-12 and we are still making it a showcase of what makes engineering great, and what makes Speed School great,” she said. “It’ll just look a little different. My two top priorities as Executive VP are keeping kids safe and encouraging kids to be in engineering. I plan to make sure that happens.”
A new program soon to launch for SS students will be a points system for attending meetings or events. The collected points can be used for prizes like Speed School merchandise, other little goodies or even charity donations, said Keeley. “It’s a little incentive to participate,” she said.
Keeley said she participates in SSSC because she feels like she is making a difference and striving to make SS a better place for kids to learn and grow. “Making sure students are successful in Speed School, and making it one of the top universities,” she said. “It’s all about serving the Speed School community. At the end of the day, feeling like I’m doing a good job with that is very rewarding.”
As Operations Vice President, Samantha Islam said her main student council role is to send communications out and make sure people know about and come to the meetings. “We need to make sure that even with the current challenges, we are maintaining the Student Council brand where we have updates, events and we still want to help be a voice for the students,” she said.
A graduate student in Bioengineering, Samantha said that every student organization is having a difficult time with retention when meetings are not happening in person, but they continue working to engage students. “In Student Council, communication is the biggest task right now because of the situation,” she said.
Samantha said Student Council was something she was interested in even as a little kid, and the desire just never died. “My favorite part personally is I just love to lead,” she said. “Whenever I’m involved in something, I tend to put my heart and soul into it. Making a small difference is being able to do something for Student Council and to give back to Speed School. Speed School has done a lot for me, so this is the least I can do.”