LTTE: Healthy dose of skepticism, healthier dose of optimism defined SGA term

In 2016, I came to Wichita State University in a pretty rough state. My triplet sister Sally had just passed away, I left my dream school of Coe College, and I genuinely did not want to come to WSU. My initial reaction to being a student here was to keep my head down, go to class, come home, and simply get my degree.

After a year of grieving both my sister and my lost dream of going to Coe, I started to get more involved on campus, However, it was when  Breck Towner and Paige Hungate asked me to run as an LAS Senator on their ticket, United We Stand, that my life at Wichita State changed dramatically. From the moment I was sworn in to the 60th Session Senate, I felt for the first time in about a year and a half that I was part of something bigger than myself, and that I could make a difference on my campus, and by extension, the world.

When my Dad passed away in June 2017, this sense of duty carried me through the rest of my time in the 60th. Although my personal life was surrounded by chaos and uncertainty, I became certain of this — through SGA, I had a second family. Through SGA, I had purpose.

Wichita State gave me a home that I never even knew I wanted or needed, and for that, I’m extremely grateful.

When I decided to run for Student Body Vice President and eventually moved into the position of Student Body President, these same sentiments carried me forward. When I was elected, I remember a distinct line from a Sunflower editorial piece.

It said, “The Sunflower hopes [they] assume their posts with a healthy dose of skepticism, balanced out with an even healthier dose of optimism.” It turns out, this was the best advice I ever got throughout my tenure as Student Body Vice President and Student Body President.

These jobs are incredibly difficult for anyone to endure, as Executive members in SGA, we see the good, bad, and ugly from many different viewpoints. Having to balance sometimes opposing opinions and perspectives is difficult, but I think no matter what, realizing what my job truly was kept my grounded.

At its root, being in SGA means serving students. Not serving yourself or any other group or single person on campus, just students. At times, it seemed like I was being pulled or stretched in a million different directions, but at the end of the day, rereading that quote over and over made me realize that while my job or certain times were difficult and complicated, my mission to serve students didn’t have to be.While my tenure as Student Body Vice President and President has not been easy — it’s been extremely difficult — I still have no regrets.

When I look back over this year, I’m incredibly proud of the work that has been done, both in SGA and throughout the rest of campus. It’s incredibly bittersweet knowing that in a few weeks, I’ll be leaving this place I have grown to call home.

While there have been very few easy moments for me at WSU, I’ve genuinely grown to love this place and the people here. The next few years will be incredibly transformative for WSU, and while I wish I could be here to witness it, I know WSU is in incredibly capable and caring hands.

So, to echo the words of The Sunflower, my fellow Shockers, go into next year “with a healthy dose of skepticism, balanced out with an even healthier dose of optimism.” Know that you are all capable of going through the hard moments and achieving great accomplishments.

Good luck, and continue to make WSU better for the next generation of Shockers.

Shelby Rowell, Student Body President