2021-22 Student Government Association officers introduced

The 2021-22 Upper Iowa University Student Government Association officers are (l-r) treasurer Sara Zainal of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; secretary Zakaria Fuller of Rowlett, Texas; president Carter Harris of St. Cloud, Florida; vice president Alex Dombrowski of East Hampton, Connecticut; academic affairs officer Katie O’Brien of Cincinnati, Ohio.

A St. Cloud, Florida, native began his second year as the Upper Iowa University Student Government Association (SGA) president on the first day of session 1 fall classes Monday, August 30. Carter Harris and four additional SGA officers were elected last spring at UIU’s Fayette Campus.

Harris is a member of the Csomay Honors program and Beta Delta Pi fraternity, where he worked as the treasurer, and plays for the Peacock football team as an offensive lineman. A biology major, with a concentration in pre-health and double minor in general business and health service administration, Harris became involved in SGA because he wanted to help the student body achieve its best UIU experience possible.

“As a returning member of SGA, people know who I am and what I do,” Harris said. “I think that being a student during this difficult year has helped better prepare me for this school year. I have learned to listen to everyone on Campus and respect what everyone wants done, which has provided me the ability to connect with all kinds of students.”

Harris looks forward to the continued cultural and diverse growth of the student body and community, and hosting Casino Night and other events at UIU. While working to continue improving Campus life and bringing the community of Fayette and the UIU students closer together, he would also like to find ways to get online and center students involved in SGA.

“Returning back to a more normal life will allow SGA to make an even bigger impact this year,” he said. “I think that we will be hosting more events that will further bond the student body together and I feel like each club can do something to increase diversity at UIU. I hope more new students become involved with SGA and our events. Their increased engagement will not only enhance their experience but also benefit the entire University.”

UIU’s Session 1 classes are currently in-person except in rare cases where an approved accommodation is necessary.  Offices, academic services, residential living, student activities, food service, athletics, and all other aspects of Campus life are also in-person. While not required to have the COVID-19 vaccination, students, faculty and staff are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated if it is safe for them to do so.

“I encourage the entire Peacock family to join me in getting a vaccination to help end the COVID-19 pandemic,” Harris said. “I have witnessed what the new delta variant can do to people. It put two healthy people I know on oxygen tanks. For the safety of yourself and the ones you care about, I believe you should get vaccinated. Go Peacocks!”

Harris chose to attend UIU because of the small-town community, the small student to faculty ratio and the opportunity to develop relationships with his professors, as well as with UIU President Dr. William R. Duffy II.

“You have to be able to communicate with people to be successful,” Harris said. “I have learned how to better interact and communicate with all types of people while attending Upper Iowa. If I would have attended college elsewhere, I think I would have slacked off more because I would have become just a number, where here I am so much more.”

In addition to Harris, the newly elected UIU 2021-22 SGA officers are as follows:

Vice president Alex Dombrowski is majoring in emergency disaster management and minoring in earth science systems. As vice president she hopes to provide new ideas for events and help create a Campus atmosphere that all UIU students want to be a part of.

“As we begin the new school year, I ask that students find a reliable source regarding vaccinations and make their own educated decision about whether to be vaccinated or not,” Dombrowski said. “Personally, I was skeptical about the COVID-19 vaccines when they were first distributed. However, even though I later tested positive for the virus and experienced symptoms that almost landed me in the hospital, I still chose to receive the vaccination. My biggest reason for getting the series of shots was the love for my family and my desire to more safely see them during the holidays.”

While looking forward to what the 2021-22 school year brings, the East Hampton, Connecticut, native encourages all students to become more involved, meet more people and share their interests with one another.

“I am hoping diversity within our school continues to grow,” Dombrowski said. “Whether it be gender identity, sexual orientation or race, I do not want to witness a stigma surrounding certain groups of people, or only students sharing similar characteristics being accepted by the Campus community. I am looking forward to having our Campus filled with programs, clubs and sports that help crush stereotypes and stigmas. I just want the 2021-22 year to the best it can possibly be. Despite all we have overcome with COVID, we are a strong Peacock family, and I can’t wait to see us all continue to blossom.”

Dombrowski chose to attend UIU because of the eight-week sessions and the atmosphere surrounding the Fayette community. Besides serving as an SGA officer, RA and student ambassador, she is also involved in the Beta Theta Omega sorority, Peacocks for Progress, Peacock Pantry and Student Philanthropy Council. Dombrowski is looking into doing an internship with the Weather Channel or mitigation work at a local health department.

“UIU has exceeded my expectations by showing me how strong the Peacock family is,” Dombrowski said. “The professors are so helpful and the staff wants to see you succeed. I believe that UIU is providing me the education I need to succeed in life and in my future career. Being a part of a family atmosphere where everyone tries to help others succeed has allowed me to develop good people skills. I believe that this fits my learning style the best and if I went to a different school closer to home, I would not be as involved as I am here at UIU.”

Treasurer Sara Zainal is majoring in software engineering and minoring in mathematics and graphic design. She also chose to attend UIU because of the close-knit Campus community. A Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, native, she is involved in the Japanese Korean Culture Club, Peacocks for Progress and the International Student Association (ISA).

“I think that each of the SGA officers are super excited to work together and start the year off fresh and exciting for all students,” Zainal said. “I think being Malaysian myself, and growing up with multicultural family and friends, I understand the importance of diversity and changing the culture of the student body. Hopefully, providing my input in SGA next year can further help this cause.”

While sharing her final thoughts on being elected an SGA officer, she closed by saying, “I am super excited to listen to the students and come up with events that would bring the student body together and also better the community. Because of the pandemic, I think we are all just ready for a fresh start and so is our team.”

Zainal is currently applying for internships within her fields of study. Prior to her involvement in SGA, she helped many clubs in planning events, including time management, budgets and bookkeeping.

“A lot of our classes involve developing skills like coding or solving math problems, and studying algorithms, so I think that our education and skills we have developed in our classes are directly applicable to our future careers,” Zainal said. “People here love to come up with new ideas that keep students engaged, and some professors really do go above and beyond their regular duties to the further benefit of all students.”

Secretary Zakaria Fuller is majoring in biology and minoring in forensic science with an emphasis in pre-professional health science. She chose to attend UIU because of its science programming as well as UIU being a NCAA Division II school. A member of the track and field team she is also involved with the PBD sorority and works as a resident assistant within Residence Life. In the near future, she hopes to obtain an internship in mortuary science.

“I am so excited for the new year and what awaits us all,” Fuller said. “I always wanted to be more involved in making Fayette Campus an even better place for the students and community. I am excited about the diversity here and the opportunity to get people with different backgrounds more involved. I plan on contacting past SGA members to find out how I can maximize my role in accomplishing this.”

A native of Rowlett, Texas, Fuller noted that her UIU experience has exceeded all expectations. She feels that the one-on-one instruction and guidance provided by her professors as well as other students has best prepared her for achieving her lifetime goals.

Academic affairs officer Katie O’Brien is majoring in biology with a pre-medical emphasis, and minoring in chemistry. A member of the women’s lacrosse team and a Fellowship of Christian Athletes participant, she will serve as the 2021-22 Student-Athlete Advisory Committee president. The Cincinnati, Ohio, native is also the lead contact for social media and marketing of the Best Buddies Club.

O’Brien became involved in SGA to help share the voices of other students so that any Campus concerns, problems or suggestions can be addressed.  With a passion for meeting and communicating with new people, she enjoys the opportunity to also expand her networking.

“SGA is a very important association that needs to continue to play an active part of colleges across the nation,” O’Brien explained. “I enjoyed being a student government member in high school, but I wanted to become even more involved at the university level. I think being a part of a group that has large goals to help other people will inspire me to continue to do so throughout my life.”

O’Brien is grateful that the UIU science professors, specifically, have best prepared her for medical school and for a future medical career. She explained that University faculty don’t shy away from pushing their students to do their best in and out of the classroom. The upper-level classes such as organic chemistry, biochemistry, and cell and molecular biology have especially prepared O’Brien to achieve her future goals.

“I am from a very big town, where I saw a new face every day, but I wanted to feel more of a connection with the people at my college. I didn’t want to feel like a little fish in a huge pond,” O’Brien added. “UIU has given me all of the experiences that I had ever hoped for when coming to such an intimate campus. When first visiting UIU, I was a bit nervous with the location and how it seemed there would not be much to do in the area. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The people here are different. The relationships you build with the professors and your friends, who have become a second family to me, makes this a very special place. It is very close-knit community and everything I ever wanted in a college.”

SGA agendas are emailed to UIU students before every scheduled meeting. Unless otherwise notified, all meetings are held at 12:15 p.m. on the second Monday of each month in the Student Center Ballroom at Fayette Campus. The first 2021-22 SGA meeting is scheduled for Monday, September 13. For additional information, contact studentgovernment@uiu.edu.

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