In the past week you may have noticed that campaigning for next year’s Student Association positions has begun. As you consider which candidate will get your vote, we’re continuing to interview this year’s members of the Executive Council to better understand the responsibilities each position entails. Erik Flores, vice president of academics and service, had a lot to say about his experience serving the Southern Virginia community.
Q: What are your responsibilities on the Executive Council?
Erik: I am the Vice President of Academics and Service … [I] plan and carry out various service projects both on and off campus. … It’s the really fun portion of the job. And the school has done a pretty good job of being known in the community for being leader-servants, so many of the jobs get sent our way. For the academic portion, one of the main functions is the faculty appreciation dinner. Some of our goals early on in the year were to promote the historical societies and to work with alumni to help our students receive jobs. … In this position it can become very easy for service to become the priority just because there’s so much more demand for the service to be accomplished. … The increase in service through athletics has also helped mediate the burden between just the service council to more broadly include the student community. Men’s lacrosse made a commitment to find someone to serve every Saturday, and the team has done a fantastic job of making sure that vision has come to pass. So I think [Southern Virginia Athletics] has done a tremendous job in making sure community service needs have been attended to.
Q: Why did you choose to run for Executive Council?
Erik: I’m a first generation college student, and I’ve had a lot of gratitude to [Southern Virginia]. … I’ve been able to participate in the Fading Point, which [worked] very closely with the admissions department to directly help people come to know more about Southern Virginia. … And I saw the EC role as an opportunity to more directly affect the affairs of the school and just make it run well. I have a great love for this institution and I wanted to make sure that a candidate with that love was part of the EC. [My second year at Southern Virginia] I was able to serve as the service senator, which helped me to work really closely with Dan Cline, who was the VP of Academics and Service that year. … I loved what he was able to do and how he was able to contribute [by] planning projects that helped not just our school but also the community. [I wanted to help] the school that I love and the community that I love [by] bridging gaps through service so that the [Buena Vista] and Lexington community could know who we are.
Q: How was your campaigning experience?
Erik: [It was] difficult just because I had never done anything of the sort before. I was really surprised and grateful for people that … were willing to help in the creation of posters and various campaign paraphernalia. Very creative people came to me and said, “Erik, I want to help,” and helped make posters and just generally spread the word. … I realized it wasn’t just my burden; there were people who believed in me and what I wanted to do for the school and would help me accomplish it.
Q: What has been the best part of being on the EC?
Erik: Being able to see the growth of the next generation of [Southern Virginia] leaders. … I was able to meet a lot of students that have that enthusiasm and love for this campus … and hopefully to give them knowledge so that they can have an impact on this school. It will take a lot of time and work, but they can do it, and hopefully I’ve been a mentor to students to help them know that they can implement change. … Just to get to know them has been the greatest part of this role.
Q: What kind of student would be a good fit for your position?
Erik: A go-getter. Someone [who is] not looking for a resume booster, [but] someone that genuinely cares. … A genuine person that loves this school and is willing to work through red tape and policies and procedures to get the job done. … I want people to know that if you want to get it right it takes time [and] it takes heart.
Q: Why should other students run?
Erik: There’s a lot that needs to get done and there’s a lot of responsibilities that this role has, and it would be a tremendous burden on the school if this position wasn’t a thing. … The quote that hangs outside the business office [says that] in the world you get paid in two ways: you get paid in money and in experience. In this role you will get paid in experience. If that’s what you’re looking for, this role is a great opportunity to get hands-on experience, … to know how to work with people, [learn] to work with people that disagree with your opinion, and know how to disagree agreeably. … if you’re looking for stuff like that, this is great for that.
Q: Anything else you want to add?
Erik: I wish I could have done more, but I was grateful that I was able to … see that there are students on the campus that are super talented and super go-getters! I got to meet a freshman that came in this year that has incredible artistic ability and a really kind heart and she saw a need in the community that she and her roommate and these students could address. … And she doesn’t have a responsibility, per se, but she’s a go getter — she’s that motivational elite student that President Wilcox talks about. [Executive Council is] not mysterious, there’s not a hidden agenda … the things we talk about are just the needs of the students and how we think we can best fulfill them.
Q: Are you glad you did it?
Erik: I’m so glad I did it. … [I learned] that it takes guts to get good stuff going. Just because it’s a good idea doesn’t mean the road to accomplish it is going to be easy. It’s a laboratory to learn that good initiatives take time. I wouldn’t have learned that so deeply if it weren’t for this opportunity in student government.
(Post by Lauren Hafen ’16.)