Past University student government officials apply skills in public service

Officers have gone on to high profile positions; ASUN election nominations open for future officers

1/27/2014 - By: Patrick Harris
Last fall, members of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) held a luncheon with University faculty, staff, administrators, system officials and legislators to discuss student concerns, initiatives and improvements. This luncheon is one of the many opportunities ASUN officers can experience to develop their leadership abilities.

Rebecca Gasca is the CEO and cross-pollinator of a self-started community and government relations firm. Amber Joiner is the deputy director for the largest state agency in Nevada. Joseph Broad works for the United States Senate. Each of these individuals hold high-profile positions and do so with upstanding character. But they have one more thing in common: Gasca, Joiner and Broad are three of many University of Nevada, Reno graduates who were once officers for the Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN).

"The ASUN is made up of an amazing group of people," Sandra Rodriguez, director of ASUN and Student Engagement, said. "By joining ASUN, students will be a conduit for their specific colleges and gain experience and foster their understanding of public service. These skills will aid them in any career they choose to pursue."

ASUN officers are actively involved in the University by meeting with faculty, staff, administrators, system officials and legislators to discuss student concerns, initiatives and improvements. Their gained experiences and abilities may propel an officer into the public eye of government. Several ASUN alumni have gone on to government positions ranging from local Nevada government to the U.S. Senate.

"Being involved with ASUN allowed me to better understand the challenges being faced by the University's students, while also helping me get to know some of the future and current leaders of Nevada," Gasca, CEO at Pistil and Stigma Inc., said.

Gasca served as the chief justice for ASUN's judicial council in 2007 prior to her graduation with dual undergraduate degrees in international business and economics in 2008.

"Serving as Chief Justice of the Judicial Council gave me the opportunity to exercise the critical listening and evaluation skills that I now apply on a daily basis," Gasca said.

Joiner, now deputy director for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, was the president for ASUN in 1998 and a senator for the College of Arts & Sciences for two terms prior to serving as president. She graduated with a bachelor's of arts degree with dual majors in political science and speech communication, with a minor in Spanish in 2000 and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree.

"The most important thing I learned while being ASUN President was the diversity of perspectives among the student body, which was a sample of the larger world I would enter after graduation," Joiner said. "I met students of all ages, from different life experiences, and with widely differing goals for the future. ASUN taught me to include stakeholders in decision-making and think about how a particular policy or idea might affect different people in different ways. To this day, I strive to be inclusive in decision-making and keep the perspectives of others in mind."

Other examples of successful alumni include Joseph Broad and Eli Reilly. Broad, who was speaker of the ASUN Senate in 2010, was recently named the Deputy Press Secretary for the United States Senate. Reilly was the president of ASUN from 2008 to 2010. He now works as a research analyst for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

"During Joseph's time as speaker of the Senate and Eli's time as president, they were highly respected for their dedication to transparency," Rodriguez said. "Both of them learned to navigate and negotiate the system of policy."

Learning the ins and outs of policy has not always been the focus for students in ASUN. When the University's student government began in 1908, they were a coalition of six elected officials known as the Associate Student Body. The officials met with a group of representatives to organize monthly dance parties.

Today, the ASUN has approximately 80 officers and oversees events, campus clubs and organizations, student concerns and a variety of other tasks to represent University students. The student government is now a three-tier government system with an executive, senate and judicial branch, which is intended to maintain a balance of powers. Since its inception, there have been more than 100 presidents, at least half of which Rodriguez believe have gone on to a position in public office.

"Leading lots of people in the same direction takes a lot of vision," Rodriguez said about past and current officers who preside over the student government.

Rodriguez also believes that each elected official of the ASUN is capable of success.

"Each student is a work in progress as leaders," Rodriguez said. "They are developed by their faculty, staff and fellow students. ASUN is where they apply their knowledge and develop a sound knowledge base to make decisions."

For the upcoming 2014-2015 ASUN elections, the student government is accepting nominations from fellow classmates, faculty or staff. The ASUN Elections Commission is specifically looking for students of notable character and leadership to advance the future of Nevada.

"Elections Chair Jacob Flynn had the idea to reach out to faculty to offer them the opportunity to select their top students with high intellectual acumen and those who can solve problems," Rodriguez said. "By nominating students, faculty demonstrate their support in their students."

Nominations for ASUN positions can be turned in until Jan. 31, 2014, and voting will occur March 12 and 13. Up to three nominees can be named per nominator. For further information, contact Jacob Flynn. Students can apply online from Jan. 27 through January 31, 2014 at 5 p.m.


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