STUDENT AFFAIRS | Jack Palen ’21 was elected the next ASLMU student body president, and Elsie Mares ’21, the next vice president, on Friday, April 3, 2020, by Loyola Marymount University students. Voter turnout was 41 percent in ASLMU’s first all-virtual election.
Palen, an international relations major with French and economics minors from Nashville, Tennessee, and Mares, a political science major and economics minor, from Lamont, California, ran on a platform of expanding health and wellness resources; first-generation and low-income student support and resources; service worker and employee visibility and appreciation; advocating for sustainable, responsible, and ethical investment practices and partnerships; cultivating Lion pride and an inclusive community; and supporting student artists and businesses.
Palen decided to run for ASLMU president because of how he has grown to love serving the LMU community over the past three years. “I wanted to take that service to the next level,” said Palen. “Elsie and I have been friends since living in the same learning community our freshman year, and I could not think of anyone as qualified or enthusiastic about service to ask to join me on a campaign for student government. We both wanted to translate our love for our community into action, so we decided to run.” Mares’ decision to run came in conversations she had with Palen and other friends. “I realized that I wanted to translate my love for LMU into service for this campus,” said Mares.
Gabrielle Szlachta-McGinn ’21 was elected by graduate students to be the next GSLMU student body president, and Taina Rodriguez-Berardi ’21, the next vice president, on Friday, April 3, 2020, by Loyola Marymount University students. This was an exciting election year for GSLMU as graduate student government reaches the end of its eighth year since it was founded and the third year where there was a contested race for president. Voter turnout was 8 percent in GSLMU’s first all-virtual election.
Szlachta-McGinn, who is completing a degree from Loyola Law School and is from Philadelphia, ran to increase graduate student involvement and participation with the greater community. “My first year in law school was very rewarding for me, but I did not necessarily feel that engaged with LMU,” said Szlachta-McGinn. “After I joined GSLMU and got to be part of a team that was actively working hard to support graduate students, it really inspired me to keep going. My involvement in GSLMU not only allowed me an opportunity to voice my own concerns and to advocate for other students. GSLMU had such a positive impact on me, and I hope that I can encourage as many graduate students as possible to get involved as I did.”
Rodriguez-Berardi, who is completing a master’s degree in Yoga Studies and is from Oakland, California, ran because she wanted to be more actively involved in cultivating her educational experience. “As a graduate student in Yoga Studies, I am blessed to be able to focus on my studies in a way I was never afforded before,” said Rodriguez-Berardi. After completing her undergraduate degree as a first-generation student and an MBA program while holding a demanding leadership role at her company, she said she is ready to “take advantage of all the collegiate environment has to offer return share my knowledge and experience to help others who might also be struggling with issues connecting to campus and maximizing their student experience.”