Being Student Body President means many things. It means that you listen to the people, that you become the ship-steerer and the visionary of student government. Your role can help equip the clubs and organizations with new and exciting opportunities. Carrying such a load can be both empowering and challenging all at the same time. Serving as president can also shape the person wearing such a title, whether they later become a politician or a teacher, like Hannah Demoss, the 2022-2023 former student body president of OBU.
Check out this interview with Hannah Demoss, a math education major who ran as a junior, as she discusses her heart for the people of OBU and what she learned about being the visionary and ship steerer as student body president.
Q: What inspired you to run for office?
HD: I love OBU, and I loved the administration and being able to work closely with them, and being mentored by them was something that I desired. And I also just had a heart for the clubs and organizations on campus. SGA and student government really ties those together and are able to support other organizations outside of just student government or within one group. I got to interact with a lot of different people on campus as well. So I honestly just had a heart to serve OBU and the student body, and that was just one avenue that the Lord opened my freshman year. And then knowing that I was student teaching my senior year, I was like, “Okay, Lord, if you want me to run my junior year, I will do it and serve in that way if you open that door.” And so He did, and I was so blessed to do that, and I got to work with some really awesome people.
Q: Was being a part of Student Government something you saw yourself doing before college or was it inspired by OBU?
HD: I always had an interest in student government; I was in student council in high school. And when Noah [Hannah’s brother] went to OBU, he was also in student government and said how much he loved it, so going into my freshman year I had a desire to run for office.
Q: What was the most challenging thing you dealt with while you were in student government and how did you navigate that?
HD: I would say I learned a lot about leadership and communication and how vital that is. There are five different voices according to what’s called this “giant training” that I went through with a steering committee, and I was able to see them all played out through Student Government. So by nature, I’m a nurturer voice. I want everyone to be happy. I want all the plans to work together. I don’t want somebody to be upset. Like I’m a people pleaser by heart, and I just love —I love— serving people. I just am a doer for others, and so I learned that I can’t make everyone happy and that’s okay, and how to step into that role and honestly just take charge and be okay with not making everyone happy.
Because at the end of the day, you won’t please everyone, and that’s really hard. And so I learned a lot about communication and how important that is, and to step in when you believe something’s right even if other people don’t necessarily agree. It’s okay because not everyone will, but that’s a hard lesson to learn. Because I didn’t speak up one time and I had the final say, and then nobody was happy, and I was like “ooooh” I cannot do that.
Q: What is one thing that you feel could still be changed at OBU that you would love to see the current administration work on?
HD: I think collaboration between the clubs and organizations and even the athletes is something that is in continual progress with service opportunities and events. There’s so many things going on, but I think if we can collaborate, we can utilize the dead time and look at the academic calendar altogether as a whole. Sometimes there are weeks where nothing’s happening, and sometimes there are weeks where everything’s happening, and so being able to work together to plan bigger experiences, if you will, and collaborate and build off of one another, I think would be huge.
Say there’s a football game one night, and we jump into the tailgate as clubs and organizations and make the tailgate really fun. And after the game, we all go to Whataburger and partner even with the community. Like there have been people that have reached out to us from the community to say, “Hey, we’d give so much of our proceeds to support this club or organization.” I think there are so many opportunities out there, and if we continue to work together and utilize student government as the connection piece for events —for volunteer and service opportunities— that would be really key and continue to push us forward to work as one unit rather than separate entities.
Q: What is one thing that surprised you about being student body president?
HD: I think I expected going into student government that I would do a lot more work than I did with the senate. A lot of what I did personally was the admin work and work with my executive team, and they were the people that carried out what happened within the senate and worked with the senators which I’m so grateful for. It was really cool to see that it was a totally different role than I was in the previous year as events committee coordinator. I was in the trenches working with the senators when planning those specific events and so I learned [As Class President], “Okay, that’s not my role. My role is to just steer the ship and give them a vision and just support them where they’re at. And I loved doing that. I loved being able to just cheer them on, but also I think I didn’t expect being in the mindset of a couple months ahead of everyone. So rather than being in the moment of what’s happening this week or two weeks ahead, I was a few months ahead in my planning stages.
I learned a lot about how to be the visionary. I think that is also outside my comfort zone and stretched me, because I am the doer. I’m like, “Tell me what you want to do, and I’m going to do it for you.” But I learned a lot about how to envision and cast that to the people who are working alongside me. And I really enjoyed just cheering them on and supporting them where they’re at. So yeah, I think that was different than I expected, but I loved every single second of it.
Q: What would you describe as your main goals or duties as president?
HD: To be a connection point for the whole student body. You will go and speak at athletic events, you’ll speak at new student orientation events and you’ll also be involved in all the club leadership meetings. I think my role is truly connecting the students to the administration, and clubs to one another and just being able to be a listening ear and a servant of the student body, helping them fix any concerns that they have and plan fun events and utilize service opportunities. I think it just allows all of the student body to work together as one unit. I think that’s what’s really unique about student government. It’s not its own club— it really is the connection piece of the whole campus and campus life. I really believe that it’s a valuable piece of campus in order for it to function as one student body.
Q: If you could be remembered for one accomplishment during your time as president at OBU, what would that be?
HD: We did a few things with the Senate which was really fun. One of the biggest things for the Senate is they got a blue light pole installed near Taylor, and that was one thing that we really wanted to work on just to make campus safe. That was something huge that the Senate did. As far as administration, I would say casting the vision for SGA to be the connection piece.
Previously we used to plan all the TWERP week events (which is when we have an event every single night of the week), but when I stepped into this role I was like, “We need to utilize the clubs and the organizations that want to plan events and want to do things, because while it is really fun to do all those things, we have amazing leaders all across this campus. Let’s partner with them and let them thrive and flourish and give them the opportunity to do that.”, I think that was Rachel [Vice President] and I’s heart was truly to partner with the clubs and organizations better and give them all opportunities to thrive rather than have SGA work as a separate entity.
Q: What are your plans post OBU?
HD: This year, I have the opportunity to student teach since I’m a math ed major, so I’ll be in the classroom. Then I hopefully passed my OSAT. I took the advanced math course so that I can teach math to high schoolers, and I’m really excited about that.
Q: What skills do you think being president has equipped you with that helped you both in your position and beyond college?
HD: Being able to communicate well and be okay with not being the people pleaser. Especially as a teacher, you’re not going to please all your students. I also think planning some events, and I think that’s huge in the classroom. Every single day should be a cool learning experience for the students. I could see myself potentially working with student council, and being able to again cast a vision and allow other students to grow and thrive and be leaders at a high school, or middle school, or whatever that would look like because of my background. So I think all of those things— just working with people and planning and being able to cast visions will truly just help me as a teacher, and maybe one day as a sponsor of various clubs on my high school’s campus.
Q: Do you have any political aspirations beyond college even if that is volunteering on a political campaign?
HD: I don’t know. That’s interesting. I’ve thought about it. I don’t know what that looks like just being involved with a campaign, but truly I do have a heart to serve, so whatever that would look like. Whether that would be sitting on a board, or I —honestly at the end of the day— would love to do administration work within a school, so I think one day I’ll transition from being a teacher to more administrative work. I think student government will for sure benefit me and the way that you lead teams and organize a cabinet and all of those types of things. So we’ll see what the Lord has, but truly I learned just how to cast the vision and champion others, and I feel like as a teacher and as an administrator you do that all the time, so I think it was a great opportunity to learn some basic skills.
How to Run for Office:
3 Helpful Tips from Hannah for Being a Student Body President
Tip #1: I would say get to know the people —genuinely love them all across campus— I would say. Get to know your athletes. Go to the games. Support them. Champion them. Get to know the people that are also involved in theater or whatever is outside your major, get to know the people. Be present on campus. It’s just something so huge. Just know your people, and love them, and talk to them and remember their names. I think making it personal is huge. So having a heart for the campus would be my first thing.
Tip #2: Number two is to learn to be detail oriented. That would be my second one. Be a forward thinker and be detail oriented. So don’t just expect everything to work out. You need to be three months ahead of everyone else so that you can catch the mistakes and allow communication to happen. Because communication is hard, and it’s slow. It’s very, very slow. So you need to give yourself time to communicate to your cabinet and then time through the cabinet to communicate to their people and execute the job. Being a forward thinker and detail oriented will aid you in carrying out your goals.
Tip #3: I would say be confident in your goals and your visions. Don’t waiver on those things and create a team around you that’s also going to push you towards those goals. That doesn’t always mean surrounding yourself with people who think a lot like you. Sometimes it’s actually better to have people who have different perspectives but still want to carry out the same goal and purpose and mission. It’s okay if they don’t always think like you or have the same personality as you, because iron sharpens iron, so having people to challenge you and push you is also really important. So be confident in those things and then get advice toward those things. Meet with the administration. Reach out to your administration. Be like, “Hey, Dean of Students, I want to talk to you,” and most likely they will reach out to you too.
How to Connect with Hannah:
Hannah Demoss and Rachel Lopez’s Campaign Instagram’s Page: Demoss_Lopez22
*Interview edited for clarity and concision*