My name is Jennifer Lewis, and I am a graduating senior at UB. This school year, I have served as one of your elected student delegates to the SUNY Student Assembly. In this final issue of The Spectrum, I wanted to tell you about what my experience has been like as a UB student.
Every spring semester, UB students have the opportunity to vote for student delegates like me during the Student Association election process. UB is allowed to elect four delegates to serve as student representatives in the SUNY Student Assembly, the statewide student government organization that serves as the representative voice of SUNY students as a whole. When SUNY administration or the New York State legislature wants to know what SUNY students think about an issue, they look to the opinion of student representatives in the SUNY Student Assembly.
Delegates meet at biannual conferences across the SUNY system during each academic school year. They also meet with SUNY administration, New York State legislators and the media when necessary.
In times when public higher education funding is in question, it is especially important to have strong student leaders in these positions. Budget cuts to education don't just hurt those who take or teach classes at UB or at one of the other 64 campuses in SUNY. When a student is forced to drop out of college because he or she cannot afford it, the world loses a future leader. The future of our state depends largely on OUR success as students.
Since last fall, I have also served as the undergraduate student representative on the General Education Task Force alongside faculty from various departments across our campus. This committee was arranged by the provost and the Faculty Senate in order to discuss the current state of the General Education program at UB. The committee's goal is to review the current plan and to suggest approaches for a revised program in the future.
The findings of our committee have been compiled in a report entitled, "The UB Core Curriculum: Learning for Life." The report states that the new vision for General Education at UB would help to produce "graduates with a respect for human rights and tolerance for the diversity of cultures; an interest in dealing responsibly with natural resources and the cultural environment; and a sense of citizenship as members of local, national and global communities." I have represented our interests as the student voice in this report, and I encourage you to share your feedback when it is published.
My experience in college has been an interesting journey, to say the least. I want to thank my family and friends who have all played an integral role in my life throughout college. I could not have reached this important milestone without your guidance.
After college, I look forward to pursuing a career in the field of education, as my passion for education has only grown through my years at UB. I'll never forget what I have learned from professors and administrators like Andy Stott, Barbara Bono and Dennis Black, and would like to thank them for supporting me and helping me grow both intellectually and personally.
I have been fortunate to work with UB student leaders like Emily Bauer, Nick Baxter, Amanda Jonas and Ernesto Alvarado, who have also served on the SUNY Student Assembly. It has been a privilege to work with these intelligent and hardworking students and I wish them the best of luck next year.
I have also learned a lot outside of the classroom, and will always look back on the times I have shared with the amazing friends that I have made here. My mementos and pictures with roommates and other friends serve to remind me of times that I'll cherish forever.
Congratulations to my fellow graduating seniors. I hope that you feel empowered to continue on to the next step of your lives after college and that you feel confident in what you have learned. Try not to be discouraged if graduate schools or employers shut the door on you at first, and take this advice from Keith Olbermann: "Don't take it personally when they say ‘no' — they may not be smart enough to say ‘yes.'"
Although graduation marks a bittersweet ending for me and for many of you as well, let's not forget that commencement is another word for "beginning." Best of luck on the next part of your journey!