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Thursday, June 13, 2024
The Eagle
Yamillet Payano

Op-ed: I am voting for Valentina Fernández and you should, too.

Let’s help Fernández bridge the gap

This year has not been a traditional election year for AU. Late this spring semester, the student body elected me as student government president. I was elected with 63 days to get things done, and I am proud to say that we have accomplished a lot in such a short period of time. However, if there’s anything I learned during my short period as your SG President, it is that progress takes hard work, commitment and passion. That’s why I am voting for Valentina Fernández in this election.

I have had the pleasure of serving as your SG president for the past 40 days. I have been working to integrate student voices in AU’s Inclusive Excellence Plan, improve the student relationship with the AU Police Department and work toward connecting both domestic and international students. Before this, I spent years serving our community and acting as a connector between my peers and the administration.

Your next SG president needs to be prepared to take on a challenging role. As a graduating student, I have seen how change happens, both inside student government, and at the grassroots level through campus clubs and student activists. As such, I believe there are three key criteria you should consider when selecting the next SG president. First, the candidate should have a clear vision of where AU is headed and incorporate people into that vision. Second, that person should be well-informed on the issues facing students and the University. Finally, they must be able to translate knowledge into action. Valentina Fernández is the only candidate running to be your next SG president that embodies these qualities.

Valentina’s campaign really gets at the three key components that represent the priorities and goals that students and the University both have: academic excellence, inclusion and financial security. Through her personal life experiences and many roles on our campus, there is no better candidate to lead the campus community in advocating for real change and real solutions.

It is clear to me that Valentina takes initiative; she was the only candidate that reached out to me directly when she announced her campaign. She has been an active member of the AU community since the minute she arrived on campus. Valentina has made contributions in many capacities during her three years, and I will highlight a few that I believe truly embody the spirit of what it takes to lead the student body. Namely, she has served as vice president of AU College Democrats and she currently sits on the University Strategic Planning Committee and Board of Trustees.

As the student trustee, she has been tasked with the responsibility of offering student insights and perspective to guide the long-term vision of the University. She helped make sure that our trustees were putting the University’s money where it matters.

She ran for vice president of College Dems because she believed that programming should reflect the breadth of diversity in the AU community. She left a meaningful mark by increasing programming and bringing racially diverse speakers. She also created a mentorship program to improve member retention and build relationships between students.

Now, Valentina is working with President Sylvia Burwell, university leadership, staff and faculty on the university’s five year strategic plan. She provides the perspective of a leader while creating strategies to engage with other students to incorporate their voices in this process. Valentina is also leading the committee’s enrollment subgroup to support the creation of the university’s enrollment strategy, which focuses on retention and the recruitment of diverse and international students. However, what I believe is a true testament to Valentina’s work ethic is that she actively finds ways to make sure diverse perspectives are included in high-level conversations.

I urge you to vote today. As someone who values honesty and integrity, I would not be writing this op-ed if I did not firmly believe that Valentina Fernández is the best candidate to be your next SG president. Let’s help her bridge the gap.

Yamillet Payano is a senior in the College of Art and Science and American University’s Student Government President. She is an outside contributor. The opinions expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Eagle and its staff.

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