Two Amazing Women, One Western NY Campus

Sarah Petrak, Deputy Director of Communications

Chancellor Zimpher, Vice President Doyle, President Cohen, and Deputy Chief of Staff Sheridan at SUNY's 2016 Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference.
Chancellor Zimpher, Vice President Doyle, President Cohen, and Deputy Chief of Staff Sheridan at SUNY's 2016 Critical Issues in Higher Education Conference.

Each March, we recognize and celebrate Women’s History Month across the state. There are so many incredible women in the world, and it is important to celebrate all that they have done. Some of these women are leaders in the SUNY Student Assembly, and we want to shed the spotlight on all the extraordinary work they have done to make their campuses as well as this organization be above and beyond.

It only seemed appropriate to start with two members of our senior leadership team, Bridget Doyle and Carolyn Sheridan. Both women are in their senior year at Fredonia and have kept SUNY SA afloat this past year. Carolyn and Bridget spoke with us about their experiences in leadership, and we can’t wait to share it with you!

COBALT: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Carolyn Sheridan: Hey! My name is Carolyn and I am the Deputy Chief of Staff for the SUNY Student Assembly. I’m a graduating senior in SUNY Fredonia’s biology program and am the Chief of Staff Emerita for the Fredonia Student Association. This fall, I’ll be enrolling in the School of Pharmacy at the University at Buffalo!

Bridget Doyle: Hi, everyone! I’m Bridget Doyle and I’ve had the pleasure of serving as the SA Vice President since June. I’m a senior class representative at Fredonia, where I study History and Political Science. I’m the past chair of the Fredonia Student Association’s Community Relations Committee. After graduation, I’ll be moving to Boston and studying for an MPA at Northeastern University.

COBALT: How did you get involved in student leadership roles at Fredonia and with the Student Assembly?

CS: It’s really due to support and encouragement from my friends. My friends were the ones who knew I would excel in student government and really pushed me to get involved. I am very glad I did.

BD: I actually got involved with SUNY SA before I was formally involved with my campus SGA. I was very involved with issues surrounding sexual violence prevention at Fredonia, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion issues. After studying abroad my junior year, I saw that there was an opening for Chair of Campus Safety with SUNY SA. After being interviewed and confirmed for that position, I was offered Chair of Community Relations for the Fredonia Student Association.

COBALT: Why did you get involved?

CS: I wanted to make a difference and it seemed fun. I was able to take on an active role, step outside my comfort zone, and challenge myself.

BD: I saw an opportunity to elevate the issue of sexual violence prevention to the attention of all 64 SUNY campuses. One of my main goals has been to unify different SGAs around common issues and learn from fellow student leaders.

COBALT: Why you think it’s crucial for women to get involved in student government?

CS: I feel it’s even more important to encourage people to follow their passions for leadership. We need to encourage everyone to do what they love and what they excel at and simultaneously ensure that gender is immaterial to success.

BD: I think there’s a two-part answer to this question. First of all, women’s voices and leadership have helped shape our institutions since their formation. It would be a significant loss for any group to not seek the input and intelligence of women of all different races and ethnicities. Women represent a huge portion of our nation’s population – we must have them at the table. On another note – it is crucial for women to see other women in leadership positions. Representation is incredibly meaningful. When one woman succeeds, we all succeed, and we all move forward. Women should have the opportunity to be anything they’d like to be, and their involvement in leadership ensures that those dreams can come true.

COBALT: What is something you wish you knew when joining?

CS: I wish I knew how it would change me for the better. I have grown so much through my roles and I wish I knew how much I would better myself as a person.

BD: I wish I knew to get involved earlier in my college career! I joined late in my junior year of college, and although I was able to get a lot accomplished, I wish I had known that progress takes time, and to give myself that time.

COBALT: What is one tip for women who want to get involved in their campus SGA or SUNY SA?

CS: We have the responsibility to give meaning and shape to our own lives so if there is something you want to do that will enhance your human experience don’t let anything hold you back! Do it!

BD: The best advice I was ever given was, “if an opportunity ever knocks, make sure you always answer the door. Never say no to an opportunity.” I don’t think I’ve said no to much in the last two years, but I wouldn’t regret a single second of it. If you’re teetering on the edge of whether or not to join, take the leap. It’ll be the best experience of your life.

COBALT: Who inspires you?

CS: My father – he inspires me in every way, every day. I’m a HUGE Chris Sheridan fan. (We all are, Carolyn).

BD: Susan B. Anthony is one of my personal heroes. On a more personal note, my brother Patrick, two of my best friends Stephanie Willis and Tracy Halloran, as well as SUNY SA President Marc Cohen all inspire me on a daily basis.

COBALT: What is one fun fact most people don’t know about you?

CS: I am a certified SCUBA diver and spent my Christmas break exploring the British Virgin Islands’ oceans in depths of up to 80 feet!

BD: I really love to cook! I’m making a chicken and kale casserole tonight.

We will be featuring different incredible women from campuses across the SUNY system, so make sure to check in every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday!