New Student Government Association (SGA) President Hannah Simpson was sworn in as a member of the Board of Trustees of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
A rising senior from Morganton, N.C., Simpson was elected president in April, defeating the incumbent and a former president in a three-way race. Her vice presidential running mate was Bukedi Candida ‘Candy’ Panzo-Pambu.
“I was not sure I would win,” Simpson said of the closely-contested election. “I give a lot of credit to the students who helped us. They stood out in the rain on election day to give out fliers.”
Hard work and clever marketing paid dividends for the Simpson-Pambu ticket.
“I went to many organizations in person to discuss issues that I thought were important,” she said. “I enjoy having fun, so we tried putting humor into our marketing.”
Superman, Chuck Norris and characters from the popular television program “Family Guy” found their way on t-shirts promoting the ticket.
“I wanted to show that side of myself to students,” she said
A well-rounded college career also helped the cause. A member of the Esther G. Maynor Honors College, Simpson was a section editor for the Pine Needle and a veteran SGA leader.
During her first year at UNCP, Simpson was a member of the Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE). In her second year, she served as a SGA senator and moved up quickly from chair of the Student Issues Committee, to vice president of the Senate and then to vice president after the president stepped down at mid-year.
While working for the Pine Needle, she also wrote for University and Community Relations’ publications and Native Visions, a local monthly magazine covering local American Indian topics.
Simpson began her college career at Western Piedmont Community College. At UNCP, she is a double major in Mass Communications, with a concentration in journalism, and Political Science with a concentration in international studies.
She would like to become a foreign correspondent. To that end, Simpson will spend the summer interning with the Washington Post.
“I will be in the department that is following the presidential campaign,” she said. “I’ll be gathering information and hopefully writing for their Web site and other outlets.”
Coincidently, Simpson interviewed famous Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward last fall for UNCP’s WNCP-TV. Participating in the University’s Distinguished Speaker Series, Woodward did not play a part in securing the internship, she said with a laugh.
Her language skills in Spanish and German are good, but she would like to learn Arabic while in graduate school in Washington, D.C., or New York.
For SGA’s 2008-09 year, Simpson started work before officially taking office after commencement.
“We started on our first goal already, a program called ‘Don’t Throw it Away,’” she said. “We collected donations of used furniture and appliances for resale or to give away to local charities.”
Proceeds from the project will go to local schools to buy books in Pembroke and other Robeson County schools, she said. From her campaign platform, Simpson has formulated ambitious goals for her term in office.
“Textbook prices are an important issue,” she said. “We plan to establish an ad-hoc committee to look at the (textbook) buy-back program and other ways to save students money.”
Similarly, the SGA would gain input into other student programs, including freshman orientation, teacher evaluation and financial aid programs. The new president believes student deliberation and participation in decision-making can improve important programs.
“I would like to see these programs be more effective,” she said. “Some parts are working, some are not.”
Simpson will lobby to retain the Student Activity Period, a unique program to UNCP that allows a one-hour free period each Wednesday.
“It is intended to allow commuter students and all students time to engage in campus activities,” she said. “Together, we will be able to make a viable case to the committee of the Faculty Senate which will be studying it this fall.”
Simpson would improve marketing of and participation in SGA and its programs and events. During the Simpson-Pambu administration, SGA will also look into ways to recognize faculty excellence.
“I’m here for the students, but bringing faculty, administration and students together will make us all stronger,” she said.