Led by the efforts of Guzman, the school’s first Latina, differently abled president, the duo have an ambitious agenda set for the university.
By Rachael Seamands, IUPUI
Let’s rally: That was the campaign slogan for the team of Alejandrina Guzman and Micky Wolf, the two students elected president and vice president, respectively, of the University of Texas earlier this year.
Guzman and Wolf believe that the meaning of the slogan is twofold; by definition, to rally means to join together in the name of a common goal, while their created acronym of the word reads, “Represent All Longhorns Like You!
Guzman and Wolf defeated the opposing campaign of Isaiah Carter and Sydney O’Connell in March, receiving 4,884 votes and totaling just over 53 percent of the votes. Both campaigns did their part to stoke interest in student government throughout the campus, as the 2016 election received 6,087 votes, while the 2017 election received 8,991, according to “The Daily Texan.”
President-elect Alejandrina Guzman has received further attention in the media for the win, as she is the first Latina student body president at the University of Texas, as well as the first differently abled president of student government in the Big 12.
Among other things, Guzman and Wolf plan to work on increasing accessibility throughout campus, a cause that has personally affected Guzman as she “zooms around campus” on her wheelchair. Accessibility for disabled students is one of the six points around which Wolf and Guzman centered their campaign, the others being diversity and inclusion, addressing sexual assault, spirit and tradition, service and affordability of college.
Rachael Seamands: How did the two of you wind up at the University of Texas?
Alejandrina Guzman: I’m from a small town in Texas called Azle, which has a population of around 11,000 people. I have three younger brothers, and I strive to be a good role model for them. I’m a first-generation college student, so it wasn’t easy leaving home to go to college. I had applied to an honors program and I told my mom if I got in, I would leave Azle for Austin. I got the letter of acceptance to the program during my senior year, and I made the choice to head to UT in the fall.
Micky Wolf: I am from San Antonio, Texas. I also have three younger brothers like Alejandrina, but I’m a third-generation Longhorn. I came to the University of Texas because of the fantastic academic programs and the balance of an amazing city with a vibrant student life.
RS: What inspired you to run for positions on the student body government?
AG: My first two years in college, I didn’t like SG because I thought it was an exclusive organization that accomplished very little. Sophomore year, a friend approached me to talk about making SG a more inclusive space. While I was initially pumped, I became hesitant when I realized my friend wanted me to run for president. I turned in my application forms at the very last minute, and after serving as a university-wide representative last year, I realized that SG is a vehicle for improving campus. I have seen how especially important representation is in order to advocate for underrepresented communities on campus.
MW: I love this university, and I have been passionate about empowering students to serve others since my freshman year. I co-founded Texas for Expanding Opportunity, but found through student government I would better be able to serve and empower students at this university.
RS: Are there certain issues about which you are particularly passionate concerning student government?
AG: Accessibility is one issue I’m extremely passionate about. UT is a prestigious school, and seeing that accessibility is not a priority is disappointing. There is so much work to be done, and I’m glad I have this opportunity to put accessibility on the radar—that this community, my community, is no longer an afterthought.
I am also very passionate about diversity and inclusion. I know they are often heard as buzzwords, but those two words hit close to home for me. I have done work and been integrated in the Multicultural Engagement Center on campus, and I have learned and grown so much regarding social justice and equity. A space like student government is often not a representation of the student body, and my focus in SG is to include and empower underrepresented and marginalized communities in these spaces.
MW: Empowering students and connecting campus in a broad sense of the word are two of the things that I’m really passionate about. As far as the points on our platform, I find most interest and pride in our plans to improve upon diversity and inclusion, service and athletic initiatives.
RS: Alejandrina, you are the first Latina woman to serve on UT student government and the first differently physically abled student body president in the Big 12. How do you feel that these different perspectives will affect the way in which you plan to run the student government at UT?
AG: My various identities—being differently abled, Latina and a woman—allow me to bring together different communities to the front-lines of spaces within which they may not have otherwise been involved. For me, running for this position and being elected has been all about representation, advocacy and empowerment. I think I have been given the unique opportunity to bring a different perspective to the table, and now that I am at the head of the table, I am able to give a voice to those who face similar obstacles.
To go back to our slogan, “Let’s rally,” I rally so that other students have the necessary resources at their disposal, and that future student leaders are able to take initiative in their endeavors. I rally so that students of every faith, color, gender, ability, expression, socioeconomic background and sexual orientation know that they have a place on UT campus.
RS: What has your experience thus far with student government taught you about yourselves?
AG: I’ve learned that things tend to ultimately work out when you do them for the right reasons. I’ve also learned that being yourself does not always mean that everyone will be happy, so it’s important to be true to who you are.
MW: I have started to recognize the importance of balancing my passions while really valuing friendships. I know that I would much rather be someone who stands for something and makes important decisions, than someone who stands on the sidelines and criticizes.
RS: What are some of your personal interests and hobbies outside of student government?
AG: I love to paint, but mostly abstract things. I also love to take pictures. It’s not really the professional kind, but the simple point-and-shoot type of photographs. I love to capture a moment in time and reminisce afterwards with friends or family members.
MW: I am really most passionate about social entrepreneurship, or using business to drive social impact, and positive psychology, which is concerned with the scientific study of happiness, well-being and leading a meaningful life. I enjoy playing and following sports, hanging out with my friends and freestyle rapping in free time. I really love the adventure of traveling, and lived on a train in India for two weeks over winter break through a program called Jagriti Yatra.
RS: Micky, it sounds like your real interests lie in the fields of business and sociology. What do you plan on pursuing after you graduate from UT?
MW: I think my political endeavors end with student government. Once I’m out of school, I plan to immediately focus on consulting and social entrepreneurship in the long term.
RS: Alejandrina, do you have political aspirations after your time in student government?
AG: I have always wanted to be a teacher, and I think that sentiment hasn’t really gone away. I love to help people and be a resource for others, so I haven’t exactly eliminated that option. I want to go into education policy and hopefully go on to be a member of Congress.
RS: Do the two of you have any advice for college students about overcoming obstacles and beating the odds?
AG: First, know that you are not alone. There are resources and people that are ready to help you when you need it. Your struggles are valid. Second, know that you have power and your mere existence has purpose. Lastly, keep moving forward. Keep going and do your best, because life truly does surprise you.
MW: Failure is an important aspect of life, so embrace it and find ways to move forward after setbacks. Make sure you are doing things for the right reasons, not the title. If so, things will work out in the way in which you want them to.