Gusties of the Week: Regina Olono & Hiwot Sugebo

This week’s Gusties of the Week celebrates two strong student leaders on campus. Junior Regina Olono and Senior Hiwot Sugebo are two Gusties who are highly involved in the community. Their most recent involvement is as president and vice president of Ignite, a non-partisan student org new to Gustavus this year. The org is designed to empower those who identify as women in politics.
Olono, the organization’s president, is a Political Science major and Public Health minor. She is involved in Student Senate, Model UN, Students for Reproductive Freedom, A Moment of Magic, Organization for Latin American and Spanish Cultures (OLAS). She is currently working on the Dan Feehan for Congress campaign.
“I just thought it was perfect for me, personally, because I do want to run for office in the future,” Olono said.
Olono’s interest in politics began through her personal experiences as she grew up seeing racism, homophobia, and sexism all around her. This has changed the way she views politics today.
“[Politics is] more of a fighting-for-justice-for-everyone type of thing,” Olono said.
Sugebo, vice president, is an Environmental Studies and Peace Studies major with minors in both Public Health and Geography. During her time at Gustavus, Sugebo has been involved with the Pan-Afrikan Student Organization (PASO), Diversity Leadership Council (DLC), Model U.N. and Peer Assistants. She is currently serving as a Collegiate Fellow as well as co-president for Students for Reproductive Freedom.
“I have grown so much. I’ve had opportunities to learn and to expand not just my worldview but to see how we can expand a worldview from a community perspective as well,” Sugebo said.
Sugebo uses her experiences from these activities in her current leadership roles. For her, being a politically involved international student has given her a unique perspective on politics.
“Being politically inclined is not necessarily encapsulated in just the U.S. two-party system. It’s more than that. I definitely see and have experienced the intersections of different things and how politics is in everything,” Sugebo said.
Olono and Sugebo are excited to be working on the executive board of Ignite. As female leaders, they understand the need for representation and support in male-dominated fields such as politics, business, and STEM.
“Many women don’t go into these roles because they don’t believe they are qualified,” Olono said.
Olono believes one way to help bridge this gap is to provide women with the support and encouragement they need in order to be successful.
Additionally, she feels that running for Class Representative for Student Senate helped give her an extra boost of confidence.
“I didn’t even think about running until someone said, ‘Regina, you’d be perfect,’” Olono said.
Without this extra boost, Olono believes she never would have received all the opportunities and experiences Student Senate has provided her. This is exactly what the leaders of Ignite are aiming to do for women all across campus.
Providing women with empowerment and support is amazing, but Olono and Sugebo aren’t stopping there.
“[My goal is] to use Ignite as a one-stop resource for education and knowledge, not only for political literacy and elections, but also for public speaking, professional writing, and networking,” Sugebo said.
Olono’s goal is for Ignite to be a resource for all women.
“We want to help women in any type of career whether it be politics, communications, STEM, etc. We want to help prepare everyone,” Olono said.
Olono and Sugebo plan on holding professional development workshops, hosting public speakers, and much more. Women-identifying individuals regardless of background, major, or interests are invited and encouraged to join Ignite. “We might not be able to do much as individuals, but collectively we can create a new network of empowerment that I think will take us to so many different places,” Sugebo said.

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