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NOVA Student Life hosts first NOVASGA Advisory Board meeting

Andres Smith
Andres Smith
Lindsay Shurtliff
Lindsay Shurtliff

NOVA’s Student Life Office called together student government leaders from all six campuses to form a college-wide SGA Advisory Board. This group will help to eliminate lines drawn between individual campuses and to achieve one voice and common objectives across all campuses.

“We’ve always had great student representatives and student government representatives at NOVA. We offer a big school experience with a small school feel. But we haven’t previously pulled across all campuses to get a common voice,” said NOVA President Scott Ralls. “We want to make sure we get your voice. We want you to use your eyes. We have new people, new eyes—student eyes. You see things we don’t because we’ve ‘always done it that way.’ Use your representation on campuses to help us make life here and beyond the best for all our students.”

NOVA College Board Member Rosie O’Neill spoke about the role of governance and leadership development. She said that, in leadership positions she has held, they have never been ones she has sought out, but someone has seen something in her and asked her to step into a leadership role.

“Sometimes we arrive at positions not because we’re seeking them out, but because we’re asked. I’m a 110% person. I only want to do it if it matters, not just warm a seat. After my first year on the NOVA College Board, I was asked to be on the search committee for the new president, resulting in the hire of Dr. Ralls. A few months later, Dr. Ralls asked me to run for an open seat at the national level on the Association of Community Colleges Board, for which I ran and was elected. All this started with a request from someone who saw something in me, just like someone saw something in you,” O’Neill said to the student leaders.

O’Neill went on to say that a board’s work is driven by a board’s values. NOVASGA values are: boardsmanship, advocacy, student success, innovation, diversity and service. She said the group would need to work together to identify and write a common mission statement, identify values of the organization they would create, determine a symbol that would depict the values of all campuses, identify a leadership and accountability structure and a work style for the group.

“Are you ready to lead,” O’Neil asked. When I meet you in a year, how will you describe your accomplishments?” Work hard. Be present for each other.

Scott Ralls discussed the tenets of NOVA’s Strategic Plan—Every Student Achieves; Every Program Succeeds; Every Community Prospers. Ralls challenged students to look for opportunities that cause their peers to fall through the cracks.

“You may find yourself a carburetor away from things blowing up for you. It happens too often for students,” Ralls said. “A report last week said 13 percent of community college students are food insecure. NOVA’s Food Pantry was started by student leaders from one campus who worked with others on other campuses, and now we have food pantries on all campuses.”

“Go back to your campus and think about how to support fellow students who are facing challenges,” he said. “We need your help in thinking how to do that.”

The new NOVASGA Advisory Board then entertained nominations and held an election for officers to lead the newly-established group. Andres Smith of Loudoun Campus was elected Chair, and Lindsay Shurtliff of MEC was elected Secretary. Brenda Medrano-Frias was nominated to serve as Student Representative to NOVA College Board, pending Board approval. Medrano-Frias will serve a one-year term as a non-voting representative of the student body to the College Board.

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.