The Student Government Association approved the second and final campaign ticket running for UCF student body president and vice president on Thursday.
The 2020 SGA presidential election will be contested between the ticket of junior political science majors Sabrina La Rosa and Stephanie Blanco and the ticket of Zak Myers, a junior political science and public administration double major, and graduate communication major Kristina Lawrence, according to Supervisor of Elections Emma Trittin.
The election will be held between March 2 and March 4.
The ticket who wins will become the executive head of an organization that oversees a $20.4 million budget funded by the tuition of an estimated 68,500 students, according to the 2019-2020 Activity and Service Fee budget.
“This is a much larger undertaking than just wanting to be the president and vice president," Myers said. “And comparable to probably like a mayor or a city commissioner or something of that nature, it’s a large certainly time-consuming initiative of ours to do it.”
Myers works as the Governmental Affairs Coordinator for SGA. This involves working with local, state and federal government officials to address the legislative priorities and interests of students, as well as addressing civic engagement concerns and increasing voter registration, Myers said.
In addition to his current role, Myers also worked as a senator for the College of Community Innovation and Education for over a year. In addition, he served as the external legislative assistant there and said he handled meetings with the various deans of the 13 colleges on campus in that role.
Throughout his years in SGA, Myers said his motivation for service has remained the same.
“There is no way to not love this place and when you love something dearly, you do everything that you can do to advance it and to protect it," Myers said. "I know that if in this capacity, I am able to give a similar experience to a new student or improve the collegiate experience of anyone, but hopefully more than one of the 70,000 students who are part of this, then I know I will have done my job and will have made a lasting impact."
Regarding the diversity of UCF’s student body, Myers' running mate Lawrence said her background gives her a unique insight that differentiates her and Myers’ ticket from the other candidates.
As an undergrad, Lawrence transferred to UCF from Valencia and immediately looked for ways to get involved. She served as the marketing and public relations coordinator for Knights of the Round Table (KoRT), was a senator representing the Nicholson School of Communication and Media and was part of the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW).
As a graduate student, she serves as one of two student ambassadors for UCF downtown.
“If we’re able to showcase not only the traditional student, but also those who may be a single parent or those who may be commuting an hour or two every single day just to have their education, I think that’s huge,” Lawrence said. “So by having students believe in us and vote for us, I think it would be something that would really be rewarding for everyone involved.”
Sabrina La Rosa, who is running for president against Myers, said the students are also a major reason why she decided to run for office.
“I think the whole job means, I put my boxing gloves on by day to fight for students and by night, my heart’s there for them,” La Rosa said.
La Rosa is Deputy Chief of Staff in the executive cabinet of SGA. She said the problem-solving, quick thinking and leadership skills she learned in her position have helped prepare her to run for student body president.
In her freshman year, she met her friend and future running mate, Blanco, in SGA’s Student Government Leadership Council (SGLC) program. She moved on to serve last year as the chapter president of her sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, which she said was the most rewarding experience of her life. Also last year, she served as a coordinator under SGA’s Director of Innovation where she helped with event planning.
Her previous executive experience has taught her important lessons about leadership, she said.
“It’s not 'let me sit here and assume what the needs of students are,' it’s 'let me ask them and let me find out at the root,'” La Rosa said. “We can sit here and tell you about political science and things we want to see, but what about the nursing majors and the students from the arts, you know.”
For Blanco, La Rosa's running mate, the reward of providing service and mentorship to students is why she wanted to run.
She said she discovered her passion for student government in her first year in the SGA SGLC program alongside La Rosa. In her sophomore year, she became a senator for the College of Sciences and served as the internal legislative assistant which ran the SGLC mentorship program.
Blanco is the Director of Student Affairs in SGA — a position in which she has been able to continue her mentorship role.
“I love to put myself in students’ shoes and think 'okay, what would this person think?' or 'how would I empathize with this student?' and definitely one of my biggest things is to care,” said Blanco. “First and foremost, yes, it is important to do your job, but you need to be there for that person to care what they are feeling.”
Moving forward, both tickets will release a list of their official campaign platforms and initiatives. According to the presidential election packet provided to candidates, the first debate between candidates will take place on Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom.