In her role as head of the Student Association, Julia Susuni represents all approximately 25,000 undergraduate and undergraduate George Washington students. It’s a tall order.
Since winning the SA election last spring, she’s been setting an ambitious agenda for GW’s student government together with Vice President Kostantinos Skordalos, meeting with as many university community members as possible—and answering a lot of email.
George Washington Today spoke with Ms. Susuni about her priorities as president, favorite GW moment and advice for incoming students.
Q: What are your priorities for the school year?
A: The Student Association has three main priorities this year: health and safety, academics and student life. Under health and safety, we strive to ensure that health and wellness services (both mental and physical) are the best that they can be. We have highlighted this by establishing the Health and Wellness Task Force with the Division of Student Affairs, working with the university to add staff and space to the University Counseling Center, and establishing the Haven Advisory Council to work on increasing education and awareness of sexual assault.
With the priority of academics in mind, we are working closely with the Alumni Association, Office of Alumni Relations and Center for Career Services to improve and publicize career networks available to connect students with alumni in their professional fields.
With student life in mind, we are working to improve student space at GW. We have done this by streamlining the room reservation system by offering a centralized webpage for students to access room reservation systems on sa.gwu.edu.
The Student Association also has an overarching priority of student engagement – we want to make sure that we are continuously hearing students’ thoughts and feedback (in person and via social media) and that we are able to take actionable steps to ensure that students are having the best experience possible at GW.
Q: What advice do you have for incoming students?
A: As I expressed in an op-ed in the Hatchet and on stage during Colonial Inauguration, I would urge incoming students to not be afraid of the uncertainty of trying new things, to embrace diversity, to take chances on people, to never miss an opportunity to pay it forward and to seize the opportunities you are offered at GW and in Washington, D.C.
Q: How can students get involved in the SA?
A: The Student Association will be holding a Freshman Student Association Forum Q&A on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Marvin Center Amphitheatre. Any student can also email firstname.lastname@example.org or stop by our office in Marvin Center 427 to learn more about how to get involved.
Q: What is a typical day like as SA president? What have you learned so far?
A: A typical day is filled with a lot of emails. I’ll usually wake up in the morning and spend some time studying or reading, then I will answer emails, and the remainder of my day is a mix of meetings with administrators and students, and attending events put on by the university or a student organization.
I have learned that it is really important to make sure that you take time for yourself every day. I think this is something every student learns as well. In college, there is so much going on at all hours of the day and night. It is important to make sure that you are taking time to sleep, exercise, eat right, read or do whatever it is that you as an individual need to do to ensure that you can perform at your best.
Q: What’s your favorite GW experience?
A: My birthday coincided with the 2012 presidential elections. Definitely an #onlyatGW moment.