All 10 SGA freshman senator positions were filled this fall.
The 2023-24 freshman senators are Emma Andrews, Alfa Bahati, Sierra Byrd, Alyssa Charow, Abigail Daugherty, Kelsie Jones, JT Montenegro, Emma Ray, Summer Stokes and Jenny Wu.
Jenny Wu did not respond for comment after multiple attempts to contact her.
Andrews has loved getting her feet wet and immersing herself in the world of SGA, she said. As the deputy of the Constitutional Committee, she ensures that all rules regarding SGA are followed. She also raises general awareness of SGA elections.
“We’ve been working on a voter-friendly campus, so we confirmed that plan of action last week and are going to implement that for the next year. So, I’m really excited to see those things come to life because I’m really passionate about it,” she said.
Andrews knew that she wanted to be involved in SGA before coming to Belmont, but she was pleasantly surprised by the active nature of SGA.
“In high schools and things like that, you don’t normally see that kind of organization and punctuality and things like that. It was actually very active. That’s what I wanted, you know, I wanted to experience and be a part of it,” she said.
Being part of SGA was an integral factor in Bahati’s college search. After being involved in student government throughout high school, she knew that giving back to the community through SGA was something she wanted to do, she said.
“I really liked how involved I was in how I was able to allow other students’ voices to be heard and at the same time, making events for students that would allow them to be more interactive with the faculty and student body,” said Bahati.
In her first year at Belmont, Bahati is testing the waters to see what issues need to be addressed on campus. However, she does want to see the amplification of minority voices on campus.
“I would really like for me to kind of allow more minority voices to be heard, so that they feel like they are seen and that their problems are not only heard, but also that solutions are found for their problems,” she said.
Byrd has already gotten started at making her mark in SGA. She was announced as SGA’s first “Senator of the Month” in September, an award going to “senators that have proved to be at the top of their game.” However, Byrd isn’t planning on stopping her momentum just yet.
“I showed that I was ready to work. I made sure that each person knew any task that they could give me, I wanted to work and I was there to work and be dependable,” she said.
Byrd is excited to continue serving the freshman class, as she believes no voice or issue should be overlooked.
“I think I have a lot to offer. I really have a passion for helping people and it’s genuine,” said Byrd. “I feel like if I can make a difference, even if it’s something small, I’m doing what I was put here for and being a vital part of the Belmont community.”
Charow is eager to be part of SGA and wants to make sure as many voices get heard as much as possible. Being an ear for students around her is one main goal of hers.
“I want to be improving any issues that we have, listening to the student body would be a big accomplishment for me personally, and just hearing what they have to say about what issues I can maybe do something about,” said Charow.
Charow wants people to know that she and the other student senators are working their hardest to address their concerns and make Belmont a better place.
“We are working our hardest, let us know of any issues. There’s plenty of Google forms, petitions around that we’ve seen. We are seeing what you’re saying and we are doing our best,” she said.
Daugherty was interested in joining SGA after participating in student government throughout high school, inspiring her to continue representing her peers at Belmont.
“I’m really passionate about people,” said Daugherty. “I love getting to know people and I like the idea of working with a team to better a broader marginalization.”
As a member of the Campus Affairs Committee, Daugherty is excited to hear what ideas students have. Currently, she’s working with the committee to address accessibility to resources for commuter students.
“I started commuting once a week, and so I didn’t realize how much of a disparity it is to not have a car here. It’s one of my favorite things we’re working on right now, and a goal would be to better that community of students,” she said.
Jones hopes to make a difference on campus through representing voices that aren’t always the most prevalent. As a black student, she hopes to be a more direct source of representation on campus.
“I joined SGA for representation for people who look like me,” said Jones. “I feel like when I first got to campus, I didn’t really see a lot of people that looked like me. So if I did join SGA, I’d just be more representation.”
Since joining SGA, Jones has been pleasantly surprised by the familial feel of SGA.
“I thought it would be more serious and just talking about solely just issues and problems, but it was actually more fun and a community,” she said.
As an international student from Taiwan, Montenegro wanted to find other students that shared similar interests to him. After talking to Sadaf Folad, chief of Diversity, Equity, and Engagement, he gravitated towards SGA.
“I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of organizations that were geared towards international students or third cultural students specifically. So I brought that up and she was like ‘you should join DEI.’ And I was like, ‘okay, yeah, that sounds like a good opportunity to maybe start something,’” he said.
Montenegro hopes to eventually create an organization for international students in the future, as well as hopefully join the DEI committee. In the meantime, he’s gaining experience and perspective through his role on the Finance Committee.
“A lot of the associations come through and talk to us and I thought it’d be a good place to get that experience. Just general knowledge about stuff,” he said.
Ray was very interested in SGA before coming to Belmont, drawn to its community-based aspect.
“I wanted to get involved in an organization specifically targeting student engagement and improvement on campus,” she said. “I’ve always had an interest in government and was in Model UN in high school and loved it.”
Ray is excited to see where the semester takes her and to continue to familiarize herself with SGA and all it has to offer.
“I’m trying to just get involved, see what’s going on on campus, what needs to be improved,” said Ray. “But I am trying to make connections and figure out the process to be able to do that in the future.”
Before coming to Belmont, Stokes expected SGA to be like student government at her high school: exclusive and unimportant. However, she found the opposite to be true.
“It was different from something I’d done in high school, I’d never been in government,” said Stokes. “I think the high school dynamic is often just that the popular kids are in government. But here it seems like the type of person that would join SGA is different, and is a community I want to be a part of.”
As a member of the Campus Affairs Committee, Stokes loves getting involved with and helping the different communities at Belmont.
“I’ve always been in organizations where I can plan service events, because I’m super passionate about service,” said Stokes. “I think that it helps you become more of a well-rounded individual and care about people on a deeper level.”
This article was written by Anna Blubaugh