On Feb. 6 in 319 of the Smith Student Center, Elizabeth Hernandez, sophomore political science major and SGA speaker of the senate, is running an informal SGA meeting, one of her many responsibilities.
“I’m speaker of the senate, which is actually one of two positions that aren’t directly elected by the students on campus,” Hernandez said. “It’s an internal election once you get elected [to another position]. I started out as a commuter senator this year, and I had to go in front of the senate and apply to be speaker of the senate.”
Hernandez explained the internally-elected position is decided via roll call vote. The job description includes running informal meetings every other week and meeting with the four university deans as a liaison for the student body and administration. Additionally, Hernandez makes sure SGA’s goals are being carried out.
“I was not planning on running last year when I got the spring elections, and I’m particularly young to be speaker,” Hernandez said. “I’m a sophomore. I was kind of not confident to run in this position, but someone encouraged me to run, someone who’s not on SGA anymore, and I thought of their idea.
Hernandez described herself running for speaker as a leap of faith. At first, the position was a learning curve.
“I guess my first couple in-formals, you can tell I was nervous,” Hernandez said.
However, even as a sophomore, Hernandez is now established on the executive board, and is in position to run for SGA president in the future.
Hernandez’s journey to Slippery Rock includes Michigan roots and a pit-stop in Ohio for her mom’s dissertation. Now, she and her family call Grove City home.
“I was born in Michigan, Signal, Mich., same place Madonna was born,” Hernandez said.
Unlike much of the SGA members, Hernandez is political science major, and is dual-majoring in Spanish as well.
“Just me and Brian [Welsh] are [political science majors],” Hernandez said.
In the long run, Hernandez does see herself in a government position.
“I’m actually in the pre-law track; I plan on going to law school after I graduate from Slippery Rock, and that is a three-year program,” Hernandez said. “Once you go into law school, you tend to practice law for quite a few years, or you can stay in it. But my plan is to eventually run for a political position in government.”
Coincidentally, Hernandez’s mother, Dr. Christine Pease-Hernandez, serves as faculty advisor to SGA.
“[It’s] by coincidence that she was the advisor,” Hernnadez said. “I actually researched all the SGAs that I applied to other universities as a senior in high school, so, I was making sure that I got onto their SGA no matter where I went.”
Additionally, Hernandez says her parents didn’t influence her decision to major in political science, but being a Mexican-American did. Hernandez recalls a time in high school where a green card was stuck onto her locker. Hernandez then set out a quest to represent Mexican-Americans in government.
“I guess it was my sophomore year [in high school], the second time Obama was running against Mitt Romney,” Hernandez said. “Yeah, it was definitely in high school. Sophomore year I actually took my first AP class in government and politics. I always thought politics were very intense, and so that kind of turned me away at first. I didn’t really know.”
The following summer, Hernandez attended a political science camp at Georgetown University, and that reassured her of her newfound passion for government.
“I can see myself running for president, but not quite yet,” Hernandez said.
That said, Hernandez went on to reflect on her short, yet successful, tenure.
“I think my biggest accomplishment would be being a sophomore and taking on this role,” Hernandez said.
After that, election season was pushed to the forefront.
“Yes, there is a GPA requirement: e-board members are 2.75, regular members are 2.5,” Hernandez said. “What you do is you have to meet a certain requirement for signatures, so the president has to get 400 signatures and so do the e-board members. But a commuter senator just has to get 50. Building senators have to get 50 as well, or 45.”
“Being a mentor to anyone is a good legacy to leave,” Hernandez said of an eventual legacy.