Sagebrushers season 2 ep. 21: ASUN President Boris Carpio Guerra and GSA President Matthew Hawn

President Sandoval discusses University initiatives, what the future looks like for students and what it means to these student leaders to be part of The Wolf Pack Family

Brian Sandoval sitting next to Boris Carpio Guerra and Matthew Hawn in the podcasting studio holding up wolf pack hand signs.

Sagebrushers season 2 ep. 21: ASUN President Boris Carpio Guerra and GSA President Matthew Hawn

President Sandoval discusses University initiatives, what the future looks like for students and what it means to these student leaders to be part of The Wolf Pack Family

Brian Sandoval sitting next to Boris Carpio Guerra and Matthew Hawn in the podcasting studio holding up wolf pack hand signs.
Sagebrushers podcast identifier with a sketch of a sagebrush in the background
Sagebrushers is available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and other major platforms

In this episode of Sagebrushers, University of Nevada, Reno President Brian Sandoval speaks with Associated Students of the University of Nevada (ASUN) President Boris Carpio Guerra and University Graduate Student Association (GSA) President Matthew Hawn.

During the episode, Sandoval, Guerra and Hawn discuss why they wanted to get involved with University student government, some of the struggles that students face and how they are helping to find solutions, the history of students at the University as we celebrate the sesquicentennial and more.

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Sagebrushers – S2 Ep. 21 – ASUN President Boris Carpio Guerra and GSA President Matthew Hawn

Join host President Brian Sandoval as he and student leadership discuss why they wanted to get involved with University student government, some of the struggles that students face and how they are helping to find solutions, the history of students at the University as we celebrate the sesquicentennial and more.

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President Brian Sandoval: And I want to say on the air that I believe you're both great leaders. It's really been an honor of a lifetime for me to be able to work with you, and you've really advanced the students on this campus.

In this episode of Sagebrushers, we welcome the Presidents of the Associated Students of the University of Nevada Reno, and the Graduate Student Association of the University of Nevada: Boris Carpio Guerra, and Matthew Hawn. I'm Brian Sandoval. I'm a proud graduate and President of the University, and I'm your host of Sagebrushers.

Boris is a first-generation student who comes from a Guatemalan family. He's a senior studying human development and family science in hopes of working in higher education. In his position alongside Vice President Hannah Alquiza, he works to empower all students at the University. His efforts focus on ensuring individuals from marginalized communities have their voices heard so they can be seen and advocated in all levels of their education.

Matthew is the longest-serving president of the Graduate Student Association known as the GSA. He's pursuing dual master’s in cellular molecular biology, easy for me to say, and business administration. During his tenure, he has worked in many initiatives including increasing state funding for graduate students, addressing housing insecurity and founding a Graduate Student Alumni chapter. He also serves as the chair of the Graduate Research and Development Coalition advocating for graduate education at the national level with the U.S. House of Representatives.

Today's podcast is being recorded at our Reynolds School of Journalism on our University's campus. Boris and Matthew, welcome to Sagebrushers. I'm excited to learn more about your roles on our campus as the advocates for our Undergraduate and Graduate Students. So, let's get started with my favorite question. You were both from Reno, and I'm curious why each of you chose to attend the University. Why don't we start with you, Boris?

Boris Carpio Guerra: Hello everyone, glad to be here. Yes, born and raised in Reno, Nevada. My reason for coming to the University is: I was part of the Dean's Future Scholars program, so I've been in this University since sixth grade every summer. So, kind of feel like I grew up with the University. I was here when they were first starting to build The Joe, so that was like kind of funny to say, running around, like yeah, I was here when the Joe was getting constructed, and I was able to build myself a family here and also that was the first time I even stepped foot in the University. Before that, I didn't even know where the University was because a lot of people in my family have not gone to university. The most they’ve gotten is high school education. So, I was able to build my family here. I loved it here every summer. It felt like the amazing place in the world and it was an easy choice to pick to come here to University of Nevada.

President Brian Sandoval: And really quickly, Boris, you come from a Guatemalan background. Talk a little bit about your family.

Boris Carpio Guerra: Yeah so, my family came from Guatemala to Reno, Nevada to give my brother and I a better education, a better life for us, and my parents are both from a village that is filled with a bunch of poor individuals. So, they decided to come here around 2000 to change their life up, and 22 years later or more, I guess they're doing good.

President Brian Sandoval: They must be very proud of you. So, Matthew, let's talk about your journey to the University of Nevada.

Matthew Hawn: Of course. Thank you for having me on today, President Sandoval and Boris. Good to see you. So, I was born and raised in Reno, Nevada as well, and the way that I like to kind of say it is that I was raised by a lot of members from the Wolf Pack family who ran with the Pack. They were educated here. They brought me up in my upbringing, and I wanted to run with the Pack as well, and when I was looking at a lot of the different schools, one of the unique options that the University of Nevada held for me was that research aspect, where if you look at other different universities, if you're looking at somewhere in California, if you're looking at somewhere in Oregon, typically you're not going to be working one-on-one with a lot of different professors, and here at the University, you really get that one-on-one time with your professor and your peers.

So, you're really learning from everybody and it's a community that you're working with, and just like Boris, you know, I can remember when the Joe Crowley Student Union was being built and the University was a lot smaller back then, but I do remember coming up for a few science fairs, at Legacy Hall I believe, and then also for a lot of the Nevada football games. So, for me, the University of Nevada is home just like home means Nevada. That's how it is for me here.

President Brian Sandoval: Wow. We love that you love this University, and how proud you are of it. So, back to you Boris. Let's dive into your time in leadership, and you and Hannah ran together as a team, and how has it been working and what's the key to maintaining the strong connections and leadership you have within your cabinet?

Boris Carpio Guerra: Yeah, so, Hannah and I, literally a year ago, decided to run. I was the one that, when I go into a space, like in the beginning, I always have big dreams. I always think big. That was the same thing when I was in high school. When I was a freshman, I was like, “Oh, I think I want to be student body president,” and then the same thing here, It was during COVID and I was an intern for the Department of Clubs and Orgs and one of our tasks was to interview someone in ASUN and I decided to interview Dominique Hall at the time, who was the ASUN president at the time, because I had that great idea that I wanted to be president one day. So, that's how I kind of came up with the idea, and I asked Hannah to run with me because I thought she was a genuine individual with a genuine heart.

It took a little convincing to have her run for that position, but I'm glad she did it. I feel like the impact we've had on the student body has been grand, and the reason why we both ran under Empower Nevada is because sometimes we felt like our voices weren't being heard or that some communities weren't being spotlighted within ASUN, and we were very untraditional from the people that run for president, vice president. Usually, when people run for those roles, they go from senator to speaker to that role or they're in the president's cabinet already, and for us, I was in Clubs and Orgs, then became director of wellness, which has never happened before, and Hannah was just in event programming the entire time. So, it's very untraditional, and we kind of marketed ourselves in a different way. Students in general, they know when you're not being genuine; they call it from a mile away. So, I think me and Hannah have really been genuine with all of our efforts and all of our goals and transparent, and I think that's how our cabinet has trusted us and we trust them to do what's the best for the University, and I think that's kind of the key is just being, trust your people and your people will trust you back.

President Brian Sandoval: Oh, thank you, and Matthew, what sparked your interest in participating in leadership on campus?

Matthew Hawn: So, in terms of participating with leadership on campus, I've always been a big believer of giving back to my community and acting in that servant leadership type of role. When I was growing up, my mom and I would always go out and do different volunteer events, whether that be, you know, at church, at school, if it was a different area that we were looking at, you know, getting ingrained into in terms of our social and community life, and when it came to the University, looking at the graduate student population, the Graduate School did so much for me. It really opened up a lot of different opportunities, and not just that, but it's the community around the University where we have the different clubs that are in ASUN, the different clubs that are in GSA where they don't just provide opportunity in terms of, you know, getting to meet people, but also a lot of other big initiatives are coming out through a lot of the clubs, and then working cross collaboratively across campus is something that I was always interested in.

I think as a graduate student you can really get pushed into your niche little bubble, and you work with, you know, the people in your lab and then the people across the hallway from the other labs, but this was really a unique opportunity where we could all come together, work on something positive and then also get to know each other across the entire campus and see what people are studying and interact with so many amazing people.

President Brian Sandoval: So, I'm going to stay with you, Matthew. Have you had the opportunity, and do you collaborate with Boris and ASUN?

Matthew Hawn: Yeah, we've always tried to work pretty hand in hand with ASUN with a lot of different initiatives this year, and I'm sure Boris will talk about it, but we did the 150th Bash and Clash, but we also worked earlier back in the fall semester where we worked with ASUN, Faculty Senate and then the Staff and Employees Council and tried to do an active assailant training so that everybody across campus could really have some sort of training in case some sort of situation did emerge.

President Brian Sandoval: Oh, thank you, and Boris, your perspective in terms of collaborating with the GSA

Boris Carpio Guerra: It's been good. The 150 Bash and Clash, that event was so much fun, first time ever hosted, and I think it was a great start to the University's 150th birthday, and I think that's the biggest thing that I think ASUN-GSA did that was fun for all the students. And then all the other things that Matt said as well. And then in collaboration as well for me is Matthew was very welcoming when I became president. Matthew has been here longer than I have, so he kind of helped me get on my feet in the beginning, and I really appreciate that because he didn't have to. He's in charge of the graduate students, not the undergrads, but he has really like given me the ropes of how to speak to administrators, the meetings that we always go to together, Board of Regents. He's always there in my ear giving me like, “This is what they're talking about.” I think that's the way that he has helped me, and we have collaborated and I think it has been very useful to kind of use that information for the undergrad students.

President Brian Sandoval: So, Boris, you talked a little bit about making sure that all students are heard. Will you go into a little more detail about that?

Boris Carpio Guerra: Yeah, so the biggest thing is sometimes I feel like ASUN kind of looks over some of the things that students may need because we are not hitting marginalized communities. And that was kind of my perspective throughout ASUN, and I think one way and one accomplishment that we have done is through our Passion Fund Grant. Me and Hannah have noticed that a lot of students don't join clubs and organizations because of that financial struggle, and it was kind of weird because we noticed that since we were freshmen here, and that was not something that was being combated by ASUN. And for example, for Hannah, she wanted to join sororities or join these clubs, but sometimes the fees were just too high for her to pay, and she was paying for school herself. So, she didn't join them.

And then when we were making our goals, we brought that perspective in there and I said, “Oh, if you're feeling this, imagine there's probably a bunch of other students who are feeling the same way.” So, in the middle of the fall, we created this Passion Fund Grant, which helps combat financial insecurity, and basically, students apply for this fund and they get their membership dues paid by ASUN, and we presented this while we were campaigning and then we presented it when the fund got passed through the Senate, and students were very excited for it.

So, a lot of the students were like, “Oh, well this is kind of exciting; it's been a long time. I wish we had this when we were, a couple of years ago; now, I'm a senior. This would've been very helpful before.” And, we've had a lot of applications. We've had around 40 people apply, but 20 have been accepted for the fund. So, I think this is something that is starting up, and hopefully, it grows.

President Brian Sandoval: And, I think it's fantastic, and those 20 students are now getting to participate in something they wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to do. So, Matthew, I'll go back to you, couple questions. Same question as Boris, you know, how do you make sure that graduate students are heard, and then shifting subjects a little bit, obviously we're celebrating our sesquicentennial, and I know that you have a special fundraiser which honors our 150th in graduate education. So, if you could talk about those two things.

Matthew Hawn: Of course. So, when it comes to making sure that students feel heard about specific issues that are occurring on campus, the best way that we do it is when we have something that's posted on our agenda, we try to do two things. We have an information portion where we bring it to the council and say, “This is all of the information that we know at this time,” then the next meeting that we'll have, or maybe two meetings from there, we'll have a vote and actually collaborate, but in that interim, typically what we'll try to do is we'll try to reach out to the affected population. Sometimes, that's been Ponderosa, which is the graduate student housing here on the campus. Sometimes, it'll be different colleges, so like the College of Engineering or the College of Science, and we'll typically try to reach out to them or have their representatives reach out to a lot of their constituency and bring them into the conversation where when we have those meetings and we're talking about a pertinent issue that affects them, we'll actually get a lot of people that bring in public comment saying, “Hey, this is how we feel about this specific issue.”

The other side that we try to add into it is we try to add in a lot of involvement for things that we're doing. So, if it's advocating for students at the Board of Regents or at the Nevada Legislature, we'll open it up quite a large amount of time ahead of time so that students can go, “Okay, if I'm looking at getting involved in this, and I'm a little nervous because I don't know the process.” We'll go through a training process with them so they understand, okay, what does it mean to give public a comment at this?

To answer your other question about the 150th celebration, so, the Graduate Student Association this year, we are just starting the process of having a fundraising committee where our goal is to try to raise funds for graduate student scholarships to try to support students in different areas, and to kick that off, we started with a 150th anniversary belt buckle. So, we're trying to build from our western heritage here in Nevada where we have three options that are available that has the 150th logo right on the front, and what this will represent is it's 150th belt buckle campaign. So, the first one is sold for $150, then the next one down below, it has Nevada Wolf Pack for $180, and then the final one is the same thing, except instead of saying Nevada Wolf Pack down at the bottom, it's completely customizable and makes a perfect graduation gift or just something to help you remember the 150th celebration.

President Brian Sandoval: So, if there's any listeners who are interested in the belt buckle, where do they go

Matthew Hawn: So, we'll be putting some more information on our website. We don't have anything up currently, but I'm sure by the time this podcast goes out, it will be right there ready to go.

President Brian Sandoval: Well, we're getting short on time, and I want to say on the air that I believe you're both great leaders. It's really been an honor of a lifetime for me to be able to work with you, and you've really advanced the students on this campus, and I think your tenures will be looked back on, as very productive and just a great representation of the University. So, lightning question, what's next for the two of you? Boris?

Boris Carpio Guerra: Well, I appreciate that comment, President Sandoval, it means a lot. For me, I am going to grad school for higher administration here in the University in hopes to work in a university, hopefully here one day, but that's the next goal. Hopefully one day be a president of a university. We'll see.

President Brian Sandoval: No, you'll do it. Matthew?

Matthew Hawn: So, for me, I have a few applications out right now, so nothing's solidified, but what I'm looking at doing is using my MBA, so, that in partnership with my master's in cellular molecular bio, and try to enter into the biotech world there to act as an individual who works with researchers but then also works with the business side of things. But for me, the hard part is that I think that means that I'd have to eventually end up leaving Nevada, or at least maybe the Reno area, but my goal is always to try to come back here because for me it's always been, home means nevada, and I think that's going to remain true for the rest of my life.

President Brian Sandoval: Well, thank you, and I think you'll both do what I like to call the “Wolf Pack Impact.” It's just incredible. So, unfortunately, that's all the time we have for this episode of Sagebrushers. Thank you for joining us today, Boris and Matthew, and ladies and gentlemen, join us next time for another episode of Sagebrushers as we continue to tell the stories that make our University special and unique. Until then, I'm University President Brian Sandoval, and go Pack.

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