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Leaders on and off the court

athletes in student government

By Gregory Royce

Before the return to campus for Goucher College students last fall, one aspect of student life missing during remote learning was involvement in student government. With the restart of student government in the fall of 2021, several Gopher student athletes took advantage of the opportunity to get involved to help serve the Goucher community.

Cam Isaacs ’22, a recently graduated senior on the men’s basketball team, is the most high-profile of that group. Isaacs was elected vice president in September and served in that role this past year despite no real prior interest in politics.

“I knew how important it was to get involved, especially as a graduating senior and applying to grad school,” said Isaacs, a native of nearby Randallstown, MD. “I’ll be honest; I was never into politics, but when the opportunity presented itself, I knew it would be a chance to work on my leadership skills, so I just went for it and ended up being elected vice president.”

Elizabeth Bobo ’23, a women’s volleyball player from Doylestown, PA, had actually been involved with student government before the COVID pause. She had been approached by a faculty member about serving as club council treasurer and had been shadowing a graduating senior to take over that role when things stopped in 2020.Now, she serves as the executive director of student organizations, overseeing the various student-run clubs on campus. One of the things she likes about serving in that role is connecting with groups across campus.

“When I came to Goucher, I knew I was going to meet a lot of different people, but in this position, I get into the nitty-gritty of getting to know different people and their backgrounds. I am always just learning about all of these different clubs,” said Bobo. “I feel a lot closer to certain people, and when I see people on campus, it’s more than just small talk; we have specific things that we can talk about.”

Men’s soccer player Jeff Castro ’24 got involved with student government this past semester and currently serves as club treasurer, working closely with Bobo. Although he is a political science major, Castro didn’t get involved until now because of the constraints of virtual learning and being a member of the men’s soccer team, for which he started every game in goal in 2021.

“I was always intrigued about student government on campus, but my freshman year, it wasn’t really a thing since we were completely virtual, and in the fall, I didn’t get involved because I was busy with soccer,” said Castro, who hails from Egg Harbor Township, NJ. “The spring rolled around and Ty’lor Schnella let me know the treasurer position was opening up.” Ty’lor Schnella ’22 has been part of student government since 2019 and was president this year.

“In my role,” said Castro, “I’m essentially communicating back and forth with the different student organizations, whether it be Humans Vs. Zombies or the Nomad Student Organization. We communicate with them about money that they request for events and things like that.”

Being an NCAA Division III student athlete already comes with intense time demands, and throwing in another time-consuming commitment such as student government certainly isn’t for everyone. Still, it can be manageable with support from those on campus.

“I would say get involved anyway,” said Bobo on her advice to people who don’t think they have time for student government. “For me, it comes down to planning ahead of time, and with having such a busy schedule, it makes it hard for me to procrastinate. When I have so many different things to do, it forces me to be more scheduled and more organized.”

“It can be a lot, and it can creep in on the academic part of your workload, but for me, it’s been a genuinely amazing experience,” said Castro. “I would recommend serving on student government to anyone, but I would warn them that it takes a lot of organization and diligence.”

Through his involvement as vice president, Isaacs had the opportunity to speak at President Kent Devereaux’s inauguration last September as the student speaker, a role he didn’t envision himself in when he enrolled at Goucher in 2018.

“Four years ago, I would never have seen myself doing anything like that. It was a great experience to be a part of that. I had the opportunity to meet several trustees and others who have had a lasting impact on the school. It gave me a lot of knowledge and a lot of insight to take back to student government, and it gave me a lot I can use in life going forward.”

Isaacs hopes that by seeing himself and others like Bobo and Castro in leadership roles in student government, more student athletes will want to get involved.

“We want people to get involved because student government is about advocating for all students. We want to make sure that our student athletes have a voice as well because sometimes all we do is go to practice and games, go to class, and you don’t see us. I want to change that narrative and make sure that everyone’s involved on campus.”

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