SGA leadership prepares for upcoming semester

Ochoa and Garrets pose in front of the red doors of Main Building.

Courtesy of Ella Ochoa

Ochoa and Garrets pose in front of the red doors of Main Building.

Elections for Student Government Association president and vice president were held last semester. After four days of voting, the results were in — senior Ella Ochoa and junior Matthew Gerrets were elected as the new representatives.

“I had so much adrenaline from campaigning and meeting all these people​,” Ochoa said. “There was so much socializing and hard work, so when the results finally came in, it was a release.”

Candidates campaigned in the weeks leading up to voting by tabling in Ragsdale Plaza, advertising on social media and connecting with students and staff.

“I really enjoyed tabling a lot,” Gerrets said. “I met a lot of people. It was the first time I felt like we were part of a university (after) coming back from COVID.” 

The duo announced their success to students on their joint instagram account, @ellamatt2022, where students flooded the comments with celebration.

Both of them served as senators last year and decided to run together after learning of a shared interest in the positions. Gerrets said being a senator inspired him to run.

“Last year, I really enjoyed being a senator and being part of the inner workings of SGA; the planning, the late nights, bringing everything together and seeing something come to fruition,” Garrets said.

For Ochoa, leadership ideas have been brewing for a long time.

 “I’ve been able to see St. Edward’s before the pandemic, during it and as we make our way out of it,” Ochoa said. “Instead of hoping someone else would do something, I decided to do something.” 

Ochoa is a global studies major from McAllen, Texas. She chose St. Edward’s because of Austin’s big city energy, and hopes to go to law school after her time on the hilltop. Gerrets, who was born and raised in New Orleans, is majoring in criminal justice with a minor in business and a concentration in pre-law. 

As president and vice president, Ochoa and Gerrets will spend their time connecting with faculty, staff, senators and students to serve the best interests of the student body. 

Ochoa speaking at the this years medallion ceremony in August. (Courtesy of Ella Ochoa)

“I want to lead SGA into a new direction,” Ochoa said. “I think it’s time to reimagine our possibilities” 

Ochoa and Gerrets’ campaign, #ForTheNow, ran on a platform with four umbrella categories: “Destination University”, inclusivity, academic achievement and campus livelihood. Under each of these categories, the two outlined a vision for their time in office. This vision includes efforts to establish St. Edward’s as a unique Austin community by collaborating with local businesses and nonprofits, increasing conversations and legislation for inclusivity and student disabilities, adding experiential learning opportunities and encouraging more school spirit.

Two weeks into the fall semester, the newly-elected leaders step into their roles and began to move their plans forward. Although Ochoa and Gerrets are in executive positions, they believe the real power remains within the student body.

“The most powerful changes that have been made to the school come from students,” Gerrets said. “The best way to get things to happen is through the senator role. That is the most powerful position in student government in terms of the impact you can create.”

Appointed positions and senator elections are underway until Sept. 23. Students must attend an information session to run for a senator position. Students are encouraged to attend the public meetings held every Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Maloney Room in Main Building or join via Facebook livestream.

“I want students to understand SGA is not a niche group on campus,” Ochoa said. “It is everyone’s organization, even if you are not an official member. I want everyone to feel that way.”