There are so many incredible to highlight this month. The next 2 women we are highlighting have shattered several ceilings in their day. They have made SCCC and Alfred State better than ever before. We are proud to have them in our executive cabinet!
- Position (in both your campus SGA and SUNY SA)
Katherine Holmok: President and Chair of the Student Senate at Alfred State; Agriculture, Technology, & Statutory College Representative for the Student Assembly of the State University of New York.
Margaret Ketchen: SCCC SGA President and SUNY SA Secretary
- What is your major and year?
KH:Business Administration (BBA), Senior
MK: Paralegal Major, sophomore
- How did you get involved in both campus SGA and SUNY SA?
KH: During my first week of college Alfred State held an activities fair where I stopped at the Student Senate table and learned there was a vacancy on the Executive Board. I have always been an opportunist and immediately recognized this was a chance to make an impact that I should not pass by. Within the next month I was appointed as Vice President of Student Life on the Executive Board. That semester I was also introduced to SUNY SA when I attended fall conference as a non-voting delegate.
I was elected as President and Chair of the Student Senate in spring 2015 and again in 2016. Consequently, I am Alfred State’s single voting delegate for SUNY SA. After participating in the business meetings and seeing how impactful this organization could be I decided to run for Representative in the Ag/Tech caucus elections. I was ultimately elected, a decision I will always be grateful for.
MK: I got involved in Student Government after having a conversation with the VP of Student Affairs on my campus my freshman year. I told her I was involved in student government in high school and she encouraged me to get involved. I ran for a seat on the Student Senate and immediately wanted to get involved. I had the opportunity to attend SUNY SA’s bi-annual conferences that year and saw that there was a need for student advocacy on a scale much larger than my campus. This inspired me to become more involved and run for President the following term. Simultaneously, I wanted to get involved in a way that would allow me to advocate for students beyond my campus, so I applied for a Cabinet position, Deputy Director of Communications. Part way through my term, the Director of Communications resigned and I became Acting Director. Each role gave me a new capacity to advocate and gift for the voices of 600,000 students in NY State, and I enjoyed serving in any capacity I could on their behalf. A couple of months later, I had the opportunity to run for Assembly Secretary, and pursue advocacy for students in higher education on a larger scale. Each position and opportunity has given me the chance to use whatever means that I can to dedicate them to the students I represent and serve in an effort to enact a positive change for their futures and the future of higher education in the state as a whole.
- Why did you get involved?
KH: I have always had a strong desire to make a difference. I delight in helping my peers realize their own potential to influence and create change. I strive to be an advocate for others and by lending my voice, demonstrating my passion and leading by example I hope to inspire those around me to do the same. Democratic participation is needed to align efforts to address tomorrow’s realities and by engaging on a local level, in our college communities – the hubs for diverse ideas and perspectives ¬ we invest in a bright future. My fellow students are becoming the new generation of leaders and activists, unifiers and visionaries. They just need to realize that for themselves and so my life revolves around inspiring others to care.
- Why you think its crucial for women to get involved in student government
KH: Being a woman in power is not easy. And make no mistake, leveraging a position in student government is powerful. Although we may not all face so many of the injustices that women around the world do, those of us who have influence and privilege, in any capacity, have a responsibility to the others. We need to speak up and speak out. Not to make sure we don’t have those problems but to make sure no other women does. So let us use democratic participation to empower and support each other.
MK: It’s crucial for women to get involved in student government and advocacy, because we live in a state and country where we have that opportunity. It is a fundamental right that should be available on a global scale, and not viewed as a privilege. It’s on us to stand up and speak out when advocating for students in higher education. In the year 2017, women demand equal opportunity on a national scale, and equal opportunity starts with education.
- What is something you wish you knew when joining?
KH: I wish I knew how important it is to network and build connections. I should have realized immediately that I was about to be surrounded by some of the best people I will ever have the privilege of knowing. These student leaders are ahead of their time; they are already doing their part to make the world a better place. It is with great pride that I can say I worked alongside the future leaders of America.
- One tip for women who wants to get involved in either/both campus SGA and SUNY SA
KH: Go for it and believe in yourself! People will be intimidated by you – let them be. Use that power to make a difference.
MK: For women interested in getting involved in student government and higher education advocacy, is do not give up. When people try to stand in your way or don’t give you a fair chance, remind them why you are there. Don’t be afraid to be loud. Speak up and speak out. Take advantage of whatever resources are available to you, and always utilize your networks.
- Who inspires you?
KH:My brother little bother Nicholas who was born with Spina Bifida. He experiences such hardships but despite all he has suffered, he is always smiling. He is more than his disability. Nicky inspires me to do more, to be more. I want him to live in a world where all people are equal regardless of disability and in a time where we all have compassion and respect for each other. I will do everything in my power to make that happen.
MK: I am inspired by those I represent and serve alongside. They’re hard work and dedication inspires me to be better and to be the best student advocate and leader that I can.
- One fun fact nobody knows about you.
KH: I am artistic and enjoy past times like drawing, sewing, jewelry making, etc.