When I went to go look for Dylan DeMoura in the Student Union, it seemed fitting that I would find him in the ConnPIRG office. Surrounded by posters from past PIRG campaigns, sipping on Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee and listening to Ariana Grande’s new album, DeMoura was fully in his element.
There’s not much that DeMoura considers out of his element, considering his vast involvement across campus. However, he chooses to spend his time focusing his efforts on his true passion: Advocating for the student body through activism and politics. As a fourth-semester political science and Spanish double major, DeMoura has been involved in both Undergraduate Student Government (USG) and ConnPIRG since the beginning of his freshman year, pouring his efforts equally into each organization.
“Being a first-generation college student, I know the privilege of being able to go to college,” DeMoura said about his circumstances. “I wanted to make my experience here at UConn more than just about getting a degree, and I choose to do that through these two organizations. I can become a leader and make change, and continue to grow as the organizations grow.”
In terms of his work with the student activist group, DeMoura hopes to work with PIRG on lobbying at the state level to advocate for the plastic bag ban in the state, which was recently voted on in town. He also expressed interest in advocating for renewable energy in the state, as he sees both campaigns hold a lot of potential. DeMoura cites the New Voters Project as one of the most influential campaigns he worked on so far—he traveled to UConn Hartford to help register students to vote, as well as assisted in registering people on campus.
“It’s up to students to set the priority for what they want to see happen,” DeMoura said. “Student power is more important than ever, and it’s very inspiring to see so many students wanting to get involved with civic engagement and using their voices to advocate for themselves.”
As the senator for Garrigus in USG, DeMoura hopes to continue to work in student government. This past semester, he was able to help his colleagues, like Alumni Senator Ethan Werstler, to recruit new senators to the body and develop them as student leaders. His plan for the future includes working on equalization of marijuana and alcohol policy as well as ResLife initiatives, mainly focusing on student concerns. By working with over 50 senators in the body, DeMoura connects with a wide cross-section of students and seeks to represent them the best that he can. His work in USG also included writing a resolution that advocated for the implementation of security cameras in the entrances of residential halls in the interest of increasing student safety and security.
“Along with being a first-generation college student, I’m a first-generation American, which gives me a unique perspective,” DeMoura said about how his upbringing affected his academic and extracurricular goals. “It drives me as a student leader to make an impact on campus. Knowing how much my family has sacrificed for me, I want to make my college experience worth every penny.”
However, it’s not just all work and no play with DeMoura. He understands the importance of a full college experience and cites UConn’s school spirit and vast campus as one that made his time as a Husky memorable. DeMoura mentioned Horsebarn Hill as one of his favorite spots on campus, where he can relax and unwind. He said its serene nature feels like a different world away from campus.
“There’s not just school spirit in support of our amazing sport teams, but you can feel the energy of the students in whatever they do,” DeMoura said. “You can see how passionate the student groups are, which shows how much UConn students care about this school and campus. It’s inspiring.”
Unsurprisingly, DeMoura is a busy student. He had to leave quickly to catch his next class, but he doesn’t mind his packed schedule. He even hopes to study abroad in Granada in the future, in the interest of his Spanish major. That is, if he feels comfortable enough leaving the work in his student groups to his colleagues for the time being.
“I’ve met so many amazing people through these student groups that I am blessed to call my friends,” DeMoura said. “The drive and passion that I see in them inspires me to work harder, and it’s just great to see people working to meet their own goals, as well.”
Hollie Lao is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.