Sophomore Vera Damanka has been selected as the Student Trustee of the Board of Trustees for the 2016-2017 school year. A student-designed Neuroscience major, Damanka was hand-picked as a finalist by a student committee, comprised of the current Student Trustee and Student Trustee-in-training, as well as two selected students. The Board of Trustees then selected her as the future Student Trustee after interviewing her and the other finalist.
When asked about why she would be a successful Student Trustee, Damanka replied, “I feel like I will be a good trustee because I see our school from a very unique perspective. As a minority and a student with a disability, my experience has been very different from the average student. I tend to run into (or bump my wheelchair into) problems that not everyone might see. Because of this, I have become committed to advocacy; especially for groups who are underrepresented or feel like their voices might not be heard.”
She continued, saying, “Each and everyone here is part of the St. Mary’s family and deserves to have the best possible experience here. Part of enhancing that experience is being willing to speak up about issues that are important, and investigate how to remedy those issues. I’m ready to get my hands dirty and start working on how to improve the campus experience for everyone- regardless of their background or experiences.”
Damanka is particularly passionate about the importance of the role of Student Trustee, saying, “SMCM has done so much for me, especially since I returned last year. Overall, the student body has been compassionate and welcoming; and I really feel compelled to give back in any way that I can. I really love the fact that there is a student liaison between the general student body and administration. It puts me in a position where I can serve my fellow students and help to make sure that they feel like their voices are being heard.”
Citing serving on the Leadership Team with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship as her most unique experience at St. Mary’s, Damanka claims, “Each day I have learned to put aside my own selfish desires and serve my friends and classmates in a humble, Christ-like manner. That same humility and servant’s heart is what I am bringing to this position.”
Damanka has several ideas for improving St. Mary’s: “I would like to definitely start off by inviting open forums and conversations about the issues that shook our campus last semester – namely the sexual misconduct and racial tensions. I think social media can be used as a powerful tool to ask and respond to questions, even if people prefer to stay anonymous. I would love to get involved with Seahawk Radio and perhaps speak on issues that are concerning the student body. In addition, I hope to physically interact with every single group and club on campus within the next two years- just to reach out and make sure that all the concerns are being voiced.”
Showcasing her personality when asked if she had anything else she wanted to share, Damanka revealed that she has two hidden talents, rapping and singing, and that she loves to watch soap operas and cheesy romantic comedies in her free time. Able to blend humor and serious thought about how to improve the school, Damanka will clearly be an excellent fit for the position and will serve St. Mary’s well as the Student Trustee for the 2016-2017 school year.