By: Nate Castellito
Meet your Student Body President, America Cervantes, and Vice President, Matt Jenkins. In a well-contested election, the pair edged out Yabets Assefa and Will Sloyer. Cervantes and Jenkins will succeed Tetsuo Takahara and Jordan Sponsler in the 2020-2021 academic year, welcoming the first generation of Messiah University students.
Cervantes, a junior athletic training major, grew up on the border of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware.
“I’m Hispanic and Latino, so I have those roots,” Cervantes said. “I also enjoy sports. I did gymnastics growing up … and now I’m on the track and field team.”
Jenkins is a sophomore triple major in English, Philosophy, and Biblical and Religious studies.
Growing up in Hershey, Pa., he spent a lot of time in high school participating in government and politics. This led to his interest in Student Government Association when he came to Messiah.
“I served on the Student Review Board here last year, so that was the first opportunity I had,” Jenkins said.
This duo is unique because of the wide range of students they seek to represent. Cervantes has an athletic background and Jenkins has already served on SGA’s Executive Cabinet as the V.P. of Student Review this year.
For Cervantes, meeting Jenkins and realizing that they had a mutual interest in expanding the conversation around mental health on campus was one of the reasons she became interested in running for Student Body President.
“I knew I couldn’t have done it without someone who wasn’t already on SGA,” Cervantes said. “If I had run with someone else, I don’t think it would have been as productive or beneficial to the community.”
Coming from different backgrounds, they know how important it is to bridge the gap between student groups.
“Because we’re in two different atmospheres of campus … we can have all perspectives in this pair,” Cervantes said.
As they set out to lead Messiah’s community of students for the year to come, there are a few issues they wish to address. One of their focuses is the Student Senate. Cervantes and Jenkins want to allow more vertical movement, allowing senators to make more of a commitment without leaping to the responsibilities of the Executive Cabinet.
Other things they want to see on campus are “producing events early on to help address mental health…and creating transparent communication. All that comes through small group discussion along with [the] Civil Discourse [series] that SGA works on now and trying to be more active on social media regarding these things,” Jenkins said.
They also want to work at “letting students know that it’s okay to engage in things that they may not want to talk about. We [want] to help break those stigmas.”
The duo’s platform is inspired by the concerns of Messiah’s students and they are determined to ensure that those voices are heard throughout the coming year.