At the first meeting of UCF’s Student Government 50th senate, Josh Boloña began his role as speaker of the senate, something he had never done before.
Since it was the first time Boloña was leading a meeting as speaker, it was a bit of an uncomfortable position for him. However, uncomfortable situations are not something he tries to avoid.
“I live more so by some phrases,” Boloña said. “And one would be ‘stay uncomfortable.’ That’s how you grow, that’s how you get better as a person."
From moving to the United States from Ecuador at 7 years old, to joining the UCF senate, to running for SGA president, to becoming senate president pro tempore and then speaker of the senate, Boloña has always tried to avoid getting complacent. Throughout his life, Boloña, a senior industrial engineering major, said he has tried to better himself by being put in new situations.
Boloña came to the U.S. not knowing English, even though both his parents went to Florida International University. The senior says he doesn’t remember much about his time in Ecuador besides playing with friends and going to school.
Boloña compares his time in senate to moving to America. Just as it took him time to adjust to terms and phrases in America, it took him time to learn things about senate.
“To compare it to senate, it’s kind of like a new language,” Boloña said. “So, usually for the first few meetings you’re kinda still learning and adapting."
Boloña is the longest-tenured senator and has had an adventurous ride through SGA during his time at UCF. He officially became a senator as a freshman, in summer 2015. In the summer of 2017, Boloña became senate president pro tempore before becoming speaker of the senate during the fall of 2017.
Boloña said his most important learning moment of trying something new was running for SGA president in spring 2017. Boloña and his running mate, Jad Shalhoub, lost in an election with a record voter turnout by a margin of 47.5 to 52.5 percent, about 600 votes of the more than over 11,000 cast, according to Nicholson Student Media.
Even with the loss, Boloña said he does not regret running, as he says it was the event that helped him learn how to be a better leader and foster better relationships within the senate.
Not only has Boloña seen himself grow over his time in senate, but his friends have as well. Sen. Jeremy Batista, a senior business economics major, has known Boloña since they were juniors in high school. Over their time in senate together, he said he has just seen an overall improvement in Boloña.
“He was always a big leader,” Batista said. “And now just every time he comes back it’s just better and better and better. And to be honest with you ... I wish I could improve the way he’s improved. ”
When Boloña first joined senate it was at the behest of Sharon Behar. Years later, as former speaker of the senate, Behar gave advice to Boloña before he ran about what to say for his campaign speech and how to lead meetings effectively.
Now Boloña is the one giving advice to senators. Senate President Pro Tempore Sierra Scott, a sophomore political science and legal studies major, has been getting advice from the former president pro tempore. Scott said that Boloña has been an incredible mentor for her.
“I’ve looked up to him ever since I became a [Senate Leadership Committee member],” Scott said. “When I worked with him in the pro temp’s office, he showed me exactly what to do and he made me want to become who I am now. I always try to be like him.”
Boloña has now led four meetings of the 50th senate as speaker of the session and is more comfortable in the role than he was in his first meeting. But that means it won’t be long before Boloña searches for another uncomfortable opportunity to help him grow.