By Heather Shaffer
During the Student Government Association elections last semester, the UIS student body elected Samantha Drews as SGA president for 2005-2006.
Samantha, a junior Capital Scholar majoring in Political Studies, was officially signed into office at the Student Life Banquet in May.
During her freshman year, Samantha was appointed SGA representative-at-large. She said she loved being a member of student government from the beginning. “I was always impressed by the parli-pro and the efficiency then-President Jason Stuebe had in running the meetings.”
After being involved in SGA for two years, Drews said she felt it was important to run for president because she felt she could be an asset to the organization and the university as a whole. “I love the idea of logic through discussion in order to develop something greater than what currently exists, and that is what SGA is all about. We are constantly striving to improve the lives of our peers, whether they are aware of it or not,” she said.
Since taking office in May, Samantha said she has done more work than she could have believed. She noted that, as a senator, she tried to be very involved and worked hard for the committees she served on, attending conferences and participating in discussions. But now, she said, she has a lot more work to do.
“I know that I have an incredible task ahead of me. Now, instead of striving to just participate and be diligent with my committees, I will facilitate participation, create the committees, and incorporate every single entity of the student body under my jurisdiction. It is a daunting task, but I have had some incredible predecessors, who have enlightened me in so many ways,” she said.
Samantha, who ran unopposed, said she wishes she’d had an opponent because she wants people to be motivated to be part of the organization. In fact, Samantha said that her primary goal for the upcoming year is to make people aware of SGA and its purpose.
She said that this year SGA members will be doing a number of promotional activities -- including wearing t-shirts, making banners, and passing out pens, highlighters, and cups -- in order to raise awareness about the organization and its members. She said, “It is incredible the amount of power that students can have within their education and within their campus. I think it is vital that we open students’ eyes to that.”
Samantha said she is thrilled with many of the new developments at UIS. “We have a great new president of the U of I system. He has taken us under his wing like no previous president and I look forward to his leadership. We have the General Education curriculum coming into play in just one year. We are developing a spectacular Recreation Center that will help entice people to become a part of UIS,” she said.
The greatest aspect of UIS, according to Samantha, is the potential that lies within the campus. “I see so many great things coming out of this place. I have already promised myself that I will be a contributor to this campus which has already given me so much,” she said.
Samantha has always been interested in politics and in 2002, while still in high school, she worked on the Lane Evans campaign. She finds that her major in Political Studies fits perfectly with her work in student government. She said that the POS department is one of UIS’ hidden gems and added that she has learned much from the professors and coursework that she will be able to apply to a career in politics.
Because of her interest in Hispanic culture and the Spanish language, Samantha is leaning toward a career in labor relations for South and Central American countries. After graduating from UIS, she hopes to attend graduate school or work for the Peace Corps.
Samantha is originally from Moline, Illinois, and came to UIS after she was offered an academic and athletic scholarship to play tennis for UIS Women’s Tennis Coach Dominic Giacomini. “I was unsure of UIS – a small school that I had barely even heard of. I came down to visit with my doubles partner and something told me I should enroll,” she said, adding that she absolutely loves UIS and couldn’t be happier with her decision.
“I must say that the people make the place. I have made some of the most amazing friends that I could have ever hoped for, not to mention the incredible things this campus has done for me academically and politically,” she said.
This summer, I am interested in learning about other people's experiences at UIS. If you’d like to share your campus experiences, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.