For our next Women’s History Month student spotlight, we spoke with two amazing students at Binghamton University about their experiences as leaders.
COBALT: Tell us a little about yourself.
Bryana Snyder: My name is Bryana Snyder and I’m the Director of Rules for the SUNY Student Assembly. I’m also the Chair of the Planning, Research, and Elections Committee for Binghamton’s SA Congress and a former student trustee at Corning Community College. I’m a junior majoring in human development with a minor in education.
Lauryn Maleski: I’m Lauryn and I’m the Vice President of Active Minds at Binghamton University! Like Bryana, I’m a human development major with a minor in education and I’m a sophomore here at Binghamton!
COBALT: How did you get involved in both campus SGA and SUNY SA?
BS: I have been involved in Student Government for as long as I can remember. Serving students has truly become a part of me. While attending Corning Community College I actually become a member of the executive board before class even began! When I came to Binghamton University I ran for Congress within the first couple weeks. After a successful semester as a Congress Representative I was named the Chair of Planning, Research, and Elections Committee. As soon as I found out that there was a vacancy in the SUNY Student Assembly, I reached out and applied!
LM: I got involved with Active Minds my freshman year after scrolling through our University’s B-Engaged page. I tracked down the President at an event my first semester, got on the listserv, and the rest is history!
COBALT: Why did you get involved?
BS: I choose to get involved in Student Government because I love helping others. Serving my fellow students is an experience like no other. It has taught me countless leadership skills and simply the value of student voices. Students have the ability to make a change and as a student leader you see that first hand every day. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter who you are, what you do, or how you do it; it’s that you served your students well. Being a student leader is inspiring to others and makes a difference in countless lives.
LM: My senior year of high school I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and I wanted to find a way that I could talk to people about the conditions I faced with the goal of breaking down the stigma I started receiving once I left inpatient treatment. Since I’ve known for a long time I wanted to help people as a profession, I thought being a part of Active Minds would help me become more educated in the topic of mental health advocacy while meeting people and making a campus I so quickly fell in love with a happier and healthier place to succeed.
COBALT: Why you think it’s crucial for women to get involved in student government
BS: All individuals deserve a seat at the table and a voice in the future. Women bring unique thoughts and innovative ideas into student government. Women are powerful in magnificent ways and they have the ability to change student government as we know it. Some of the biggest hardships in my student government career have come into play because I was a women. Being told that your voice simply doesn’t matter is a painful statement to hear. Sometimes people look at you like you aren’t strong enough or capable enough. But then once you step up and use your voice they begin to understand. Gaining respect as a woman leader is never easy but as more and more women go for the challenge the brighter the future becomes.
LM: It is so important to get involved as a female leader on campus to be a role model for other women who want to get involved. Passion can be contagious in the most positive of ways, and being passionate, open, strong, and even vulnerable in a leadership role helps women who are looking to make change embrace their personal perspectives and narratives to accomplish their goals.
COBALT: What is something you wish you knew when joining?
BS: I wish I knew how much I would grow and change throughout my experiences. But I also wish that I knew how challenging it would be. Being in Student Government I learn new skills and understand myself even more each day. You are constantly forced to think outside of the box and expand past your comfort zone. But the challenge is honestly what makes it worth it. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
LM: In hindsight, I wish I knew sooner that I couldn’t do it all alone. I wouldn’t be the leader I am without my Executive Board who works so hard along side me and they helped me learn that being a leader is not about doing everything yourself, but delegating and trusting others with the visions you built together.
COBALT: What’s one tip for women who want to get involved in student leadership on campus or at with the Student Assembly?
BS: A quote I live by every day is, “What would you do if you were not afraid?” Every move you make in life you can ask yourself that question and understand where you are meant to go. When running for offices or getting involved in Student Government, never be afraid. It is a step that you will never regret, no matter what happens. Go outside of your comfort zone, challenge yourself, and simply go for it.
LM: Even if you’re nervous to take the first step, go to the first meeting, or raise your hand and make a comment — do it anyway. Be unashamedly passionate and open. You’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish when you are.
COBALT: Who inspires you?
BS: I am so inspired by the women student leaders around me, those from the past, present, and future. I look at my roommate, my friends, and my family and see them working so hard every day. I am amazed by these women. I am inspired to serve like they do and to develop the drive all possess. These women devote their lives to making a difference for all of us and it makes me happier than I can express. I have looked up to my stepmom since I was a little girl. She works every day to make the world a better place as a leader. Taking an organization and growing it year by year into something that makes a difference for individuals with disabilities every day. Along with being a role model she has always been strong and kindhearted. She’s a friend and someone I will strive to be for the rest of my life.
LM: My mother is my inspiration. She is the one who taught me to never accept the status quo and to fight for what’s right even if that path is much harder to walk. She is the strongest and most loving woman I know and I would not be the woman I am today without her guidance and warmth throughout my life.
COBALT: What’s one fun fact about you that most people don’t know?
BS: I love Gilmore Girls. I’ll be moving to Connecticut after graduation and made this decision partially because of that show!
LM: I am a published poet!