The Gustavian Weekly

Gusties of the Week: Student Senate Co-Presidents Elect

By Darcy Coulter Staff Writer | March 15, 2013 | Gustie of the Week

Matt and Dani are preparing to lead the Gustavus Student Senate in the 2013-2014 acedemic year. <em>Mara LeBlanc</em>

Matt and Dani are preparing to lead the Gustavus Student Senate in the 2013-2014 acedemic year. Mara LeBlanc

Dani Cabrera is using what she has learned being a CF and will lead Student Senate next year. Mara LeBlanc

Dani Cabrera is using what she has learned being a CF and will lead Student Senate next year. Mara LeBlanc

Dani Cabrera is a sophomore communications studies major known for her work ethic and compassion. Her position as a Collegiate Fellow (CF) allows her to exercise both of these skills while working with first-year students in Norelius Hall.

She was surprised by how much her CF position benefited not only her residents, but herself.

“I love how being a CF has provided me the opportunity for me to nourish first-years and serve as a resource for anything they may need,” she said. “In an unexpected way, they’ve changed me just as much as I hope I’ve changed them, and I couldn’t ask for a better group of girls.”

Her inspiration to become a CF came from her own CF during her first year.

“I had a great CF last year, Sokhna Gueye. She helped me through a lot of tough times, adjusting to college and being an out of state student, since she’s an international student; we had that unifying factor. I decided to apply mostly because of the relationship I had with her,” she said.

She was also motivated by the idea of helping others.

“I wanted to be that mentor, role model, and guide for other girls, to get them through their first year, which is tougher than a lot of students let on,” she said.

First-Year Paget Pengelly is thankful for Dani’s devotion to her CF position.

“She is very easy to talk to and absolutely hilarious and fun to hang out with. I know if I need advice or have questions, she will be able to answer them, or find the answer for me,” Pengelly said.

Dani’s other passion for the past two years has been Student Senate. She didn’t waste any time in her first year before running for first-year representative.

“Student Senate really appealed to me because of my past involvement with Mock Trial and Student Council in high school. I thought Senate would be a good place to start, to get involved with other groups and understand the inner workings of Gustavus,” she said.

After serving on the Diversity Committee as a senator, she wanted to be the Diversity Chair in her sophomore year.

“I was really passionate about the progress of Breaking Barriers, and after going to the White Privilege Conference last year I wanted to see these conversations happen all over campus and I knew that Diversity Chair would be perfect for me,” she said. “I knew that Diversity Committee would be where I was most effective, since it was something I was truly passionate about.”

Dani also hopes that her work at Gustavus will have a memorable impact.

“When I leave Gustavus, I hope that those still here will remember me as an individual dedicated to understanding, open dialogue, hard work and inclusion,” she said.

Matt Timmons is using his humorus side to bring a lightheartedness vibe to Student Senate next year. Mara LeBlanc

Matt Timmons is using his humorus side to bring a lightheartedness vibe to Student Senate next year. Mara LeBlanc

Sophomore Communications Studies Major Matt Timmons knows what it’s like to be in the public eye. As a member of LineUs and Chapel Choir and the new Co-President Elect, he has proven that he can keep his cool under pressure.

Matt’s love for performing came from high school theatre experience as well as his time on the Gustavus forensics team. “I always enjoyed having a creative output, some channel to express myself,” he said. After resigning from the forensics team in the fall, he felt like he couldn’t express himself without this outlet.

“In LineUs, I feel like I get a stage again, and I get to share it with the best people. I love all of them so much,” he said of his return to performance. He also enjoys performing with Gustavus Choir of Christ Chapel.

Fellow LineUs member Junior Justin Feit values Matt’s passion for performance.

“As a member of LineUs, he brings his own personal flair and energy to scenes that nobody else could duplicate. He is truly a team player in everything he does,” Feit said.

Matt got involved in LineUs after his second audition at the end of his first year, but didn’t participate in very much until the fall. His love of LineUs began in his first weekend on campus.

“I remember watching them perform during orientation, and I enjoyed it so much. I enjoyed the energy. There’s such a cool aura, being an audience member and being on the stage,” he said.

Now that he’s a part of it, he focuses on all of the benefits the group provides to him.

“We have so much fun, so it’s not something I stress out about, because I know I will be so much more productive because of it. The release it provides me is great, I couldn’t possibly put a value on it,” he said.

Matt isn’t all about the comedic relief, however.

“People enjoy talking to Matt not only because he is fun to be around, but also because he is an active listener and his respect and concern for others is always evident,” Junior Erin Traxler said. “Matt is one of the most sincere, genuine individuals I know.”

“He is someone who puts an incredible amount of effort into every aspect of his life, whether it is in his classwork, all of his various organizations, or just brightening his peers’ days.  I can’t stand walking with him on campus because he hugs everyone he sees, so I’m always late to class when I go with him,” Feit said.

Matt and Dani were elected as Student Senate Co-Presidents on March 4. They began working together on the Norelius CF Staff.

“We started joking about it, but as we started working together more and more, we started to see how well we work together and how great of a team we are, and how our differences make us really compatible,” Dani said.

They decided to run with a platform emphasizing communication between Student Senate and the student body.

“I was struck by what power, what influence I feel Senate has and how I didn’t know what was going on in Senate, I would argue that the majority of students don’t know what’s going on in Senate, and I want to change that,” Matt said.

“If you’re not involved in Senate, you may not know about the great things Senate does. Its a shame that some students don’t know about the progress that Senate makes for them. We felt that we would be able to change that,” Dani said.

Another project that the pair is excited to work on is the Safe Rides program.

“We are really interested in looking at Safe Rides and working out a compromise. We would like to see students utilize this great resource on campus,” Dani said.

Though Dani has a great deal of Senate experience behind her, Matt feels he has some catching up to do.

“Right now, I’m really trying to delve into Senate. It’s one of my top priorities to make sure that I observe as much as I can,” he said. “Over the next few months, I’ll try to immerse myself as much as possible.”

He notes that he isn’t afraid of the challenge of being new to Student Senate.

“I think Dani and I offer a set of skills that compliment each other,” he said. “We feel that my realistic neutrality will allow us to have a comprehensive set of skills.”