Next year’s USG executive board 'diverse' and 'determined,' president-elect says

Vice Preisdential candidate Lysette Johnson and presidential candidate Irma Valverde. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus) 

Next year’s executive board for the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at the University of Connecticut is focused on bringing different points of view to student leadership, improving USG and continuing outreach across campus.

“I was really looking for a diverse group that was really passionate about the initiatives within each committee,” USG president-elect Irma Valverde said, of the board she selected for next year.

Valverde said positivity was a quality she considered heavily when picking members of the executive board.

“The vibes I get from everybody are so positive and we’re very team-oriented,” Valverde said. “I think for an executive board to be successful and to be a role model for the rest of the organization, you need to have that positive outlook.”

Valverde said she wanted a variety of perspectives, so she picked board members with a different experiences and backgrounds.

Marisa Nazzaro, next year’s chief of staff to the president, is currently a freshman who recently went through the Week of Welcome events like the USG ice cream social and convocation. Valverde said she hopes Nazzaro can provide a fresh perspective on how to improve those events.

Caio Goncalves, next year’s public relations director, has never been in USG but is vice president of Zeta Beta Tau and a resident assistant.

“[Valverde] actually appreciated the fact that I wasn’t someone who was involved in USG already and I had maybe a different perspective,” Goncalves said.

The new board members have ideas about how to continue the work USG is currently doing, while expanding the organization’s involvement around campus as well.

Wawa Gatheru, next year’s student services chairperson, said she wants to make USG more visible around campus through her involvement in the Global House learning community and the University Senate’s courses and curricula committee.

Gabrielle Fazzina, future student development chairperson, said she wants the student development committee to branch out beyond its typically busy time during Spring Weekend.

“The [student development] committee is here to advocate and start new initiatives for students,” Fazzina said. “I really want to work on that during the fall and also partner with other student organizations and help them co-sponsor their own events.”

Haley Hinton will be serving as external affairs chairperson for the second time next year. She said she wants to continue work she’s done between the Interfraternity Council (IFC) and the town of Mansfield. Recently, residents in Mansfield have been upset with students living off-campus in residential neighborhoods.

Hinton said while she was able to bridge the gap between fraternities and the town, she wants to work with other students living off-campus as well.

“[IFC] came to us and we were able to help them, but I don’t think…off-campus students and other off-campus organizations know that we’re here to help them with communications [with the town,]” Hinton said. “That was so successful that I think we can only go further from there.”

Making USG known to the rest of campus is a focus for the future board.

“It’s on us, and me specifically, to brand [USG] in a better way,” Goncalves said. “For people who aren’t involved in USG, what’s in it for them? That’s something that we’re going to have to work on.”

Ama Appiah, future academic affairs chairperson, said it’s important to make sure members of USG feel welcome to share their ideas, especially new members.

“I want to make sure that everyone’s voices are heard and that everyone has a chance to say something,” Appiah said. “I believe that really does start with the executive board… When we are excited and positive about this and we know that we can communicate and let our voices out… it shows the rest of USG that they can also be as comfortable.”

The full USG executive board will be sworn in on April 19 and is as follows:

Irma Valverde, president; Lysette Johnson, vice president; Seeya Sodani, comptroller; Marisa Nazzaro, chief of staff to the president; Dustin Lavoie, chief of staff to the vice president; Caio Goncalves, public relations director; Ama Appiah, academic affairs chairperson; Haley Hinton, external affairs chairperson; Jay Gala, funding board chairperson; Malu Foley, programs director; Gabrielle Fazzina, student development chairperson; and Wawa Gatheru, student services chairperson.


Schae Beaudoin is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at schae.beaudoin@uconn.edu.