Past presidents look to future

By Amy Meyer, Editor-in-Chief


We had an opportunity to ask ASEWU presidents Becca Harrell and Kaleb Hoffer to reflect on service to the Eastern Washington student body. Here are our questions and their answers.

Becca Harrell
Becca Harrell, the ASEWU president from October 2012 to June 2013

Becca Harrell was elected as executive vice president in last year’s election and stepped into the job after the first week of school this academic year. A member of Alpha Xi Delta, Harrell said that she sees her role as president as an amazing opportunity, that she has learned things from it, things that she did not know were possible to learn.What has been the most rewarding part of this opportunity?

Harrell said that the ASEWU team was great. She said that the friendships that they have made along the way and what they have accomplished since the beginning of the year was most rewarding.

“It’s extremely rewarding to go to meetings like the president’s cabinet or the board of trustees and just constantly be told by them that they’re so proud of our group and everything that we’ve done this year and we’ve handled ourselves with dignity and integrity and grace the whole time and stayed optimistic.

“What really comes down to [election day], being able to see these new, incoming leaders. They’re so excited and so ready to take on the world, and they’re so ready to make a positive change for students. We’re seeing these numbers come in of students who are voting and students who are actually going out to have a voice in who their leaders are.”

She added that it was also gratifying to look back at the year and understand the opportunities the new group had.

In what way has this job challenged you and grown you?

“I am not a big fan of public speaking. This job has definitely challenged me with [that]. I was elected executive vice president. I was prepared to run meetings. I love that kind of stuff. I love the small atmosphere, the organizing a small team. I wasn’t necessarily as prepared to give board reports and speak at big events and cohost awards. I wasn’t prepared for that.

“That’s something that a year ago I couldn’t have even imagined doing. So it’s definitely pushed me to get over that fear.

“When I first came into [Associated Students], I was the shy little freshman girl who was scared to talk to people. Now that I’m leading [Associated Students], after this year, I’ve just grown so much as a person and I feel much more ready to take on the real world.”

What do you think you are leaving behind for the EWU community?

“I hope what I’ve left is a little bit to start that legacy — that we’re proud and we have traditions and we love our school because it’s truly an amazing place.”

What are you going to do next year?

“That is the million dollar question. My goal is to hopefully get an internship. That’s my ultimate goal. I’m sure I’ll stay involved, even though I say I’m leaving. I’m sure I’ll find something else [on campus] to pour myself into. It’s just who I am.”

Harrell added that she was passionate about student advocacy.

“I would love to manage a social media account for some big organization. So if I could get an internship, managing social media for anywhere, just so I can learn the ropes and be able to carry it on after graduation, that would [make me] extremely happy.”

Kaleb Hoffer was president of the ASEWU from the beginning of June 2012 to the end of September.
Kaleb Hoffer was president of the ASEWU from the beginning of June 2012 to the end of September.

Kaleb Hoffer was elected president of the ASEWU in the 2012 general elections. He served all summer but was unable to continue his role after the second week of school and eventually resigned at the end of November.What did you do for EWU as president?

“I think … sitting in a lot of the meetings for the learning commons, facilitating that, helping the student input — that was what most of my summer involved. … I would just attribute it to preparing the training week and preparing the student government that continued after I left, giving them that foundation and that training. I may not have been there, but I feel like I gave them my philosophy on how to lead and run the school. … I hope that some of that carried through and helped them accomplish the stuff they did accomplish this year. Most of my summer was spent on the Learning Commons and on the Gateway Project and just lending a voice there.”

Have you been involved in student government since then?

“The best I can. I didn’t want to step on toes and overstep my boundaries because there is a new president in charge. But I definitely was there for the students, whether they came to me or I came to them. They would ask me advice because I do have a lot of institutional knowledge that they would still come ask for, and I would give my opinion on problems that they had.

“Then if I saw issues, I was not afraid to get in touch with them and say that this probably needs to be changed.

“It definitely helped having inside knowledge of ASEWU and … now an outside perspective as just a student at large to bridge that gap, giving them ideas on how they can reach the students better, like getting them an Instagram and using their Twitter and stuff like that, getting them more into the things that the students use.”

Hoffer added that he attended Lobby Day in Olympia, Wash., and he still sat on committees.

Overall, what are you leaving behind?

“It stems from when I was finance vice president. … I took that philosophy into training [the ASEWU]. It was really being focused on the student dollars. When I became president, I had a lot more say over how we train the students. … I told them that that money, it’s not just free money, we don’t just get it. It comes from the students. Hopefully that was my legacy is to use that money as wisely as possible.

“I think that would be it. I hope I’m not done with the legacy though. I still have another year or so.”

What are you working on next year?

“I’ve been working on it all year because it’s been a slow progress, but I want to start a club. … I didn’t start it as president. It was started in Oscar’s presidency was the mentor-mentee program where all the student government gets some kind of mentor on campus related to their position. So when I was president, my mentor was Dr. Arévalo. I want to start a club that’s like that for all students in general, where we can connect the students of Eastern with the community. So business leaders can get connected with some kind of business mentor out in Spokane community, journalism with journalism. It’s just a huge, daunting task and so it’s just been a lot more challenging than I thought, but I hope that is my legacy that I leave is getting that started. Then I think that would outlast any presidency.

“If I was the president, … the name gets forgotten after a while, but with that, it’d be a club lasts for a long time. That’s the thing I’ve been working on most recently.”

After school, what do you want to do?

“I’m going for a finance degree, but really my goal is to get an executive level, just like being president, get an executive-level position somewhere. I don’t want to do middle management. My real goal … and I’ve already started to do it, is to have an asset-management firm. Me and my brothers have already purchased a … rental cabin together. I hope to just continue buying things like that and have a little portfolio of investments like that.

Hoffer added that after he graduates, he does not want to get stuck selling insurance, but is willing to take a lower position if he knew it would eventually turn into more.