USGA’s Pass the Torch brings in a new wave of leading voices

The end of an era is something that we all must face. Right now, many students are preparing for the end of their college careers, including figures on the executive board (e-board) of the Undergraduate Student Government Association (USGA). This has prompted a turnover in leadership, therefore ushering in new faces.
Despite the wind trying to sweep the tables clear at the Bixler/Gerber Quad during Charlie’s Picnic and the Pass the Torch ceremony, many students still showed up to see this transition of power of the 2023-24 USGA e-board.
There were two tables on each side of the podium: one for the current e-board and another for the incoming one.
Current USGA President Cora Cogill started her speech with a thanks to those attending the ceremony, saying, “We come together to celebrate all the work that has been completed to enhance the campus community.”
Cogill also discussed how being a part of USGA has impacted her personally. She said, “USGA holds a special place in my heart, and it always will.” She went on to share a personal story of when she was appointed as the Vice President of Operations (VPOPS) and had FaceTimed a dying family member to tell her the news, which was their last conversation. She said, “At that time, I made a promise to myself to do my best in the position in honor of her.”.
Cogill thanked the five e-board members sitting next to her as well, saying “Each day, they woke up, they did their job and they did it with a smile on their face.” She said she would miss Secora Chambers making music playlists, Jenn Tucci being the USGA mom, Ella Galvan laying on the Center for Student Engagement, Leadership and Orientation’s (CSELO’s) couch, Sankofa Benzo sprinting between classes and Darby Brown simply being Darby.
Cogill then thanked CSELO and Greg Overend, the USGA advisor, whose “sense of humor and friendly personality” always made Cogill and the e-board smile.
The next speech came from the current senior vice president (SVP) and president-elect for next year, Darby Brown, who said she was proud to serve under Cogill during the past few months. Brown also read a quote from Walter Lippman, which she changed to describe Cogill, saying, “‘The final test of a leader is that [she] leaves behind [her] in other [people] the conviction and the will to carry on.’”
Brown then turned to the current e-board to her right and said, “As much as I am excited to serve alongside my new e-board… leaving you guys will be really, really hard.”
She then said, “I wasn’t here for a long time, but I was here for a good time. You all made it a good time, and I am grateful for that.”
Brown also told them that no matter what they were doing next, she knew they would do great, as evidenced by their hard work and dedication during their USGA membership.
The next speech came from the vice president of operations Jenn Tucci, who talked about how the USGA e-board are constantly on display, whether that is at events or simply walking around campus. Tucci admitted that this kind of popularity scared her at first, but she soon realized that the e-board’s growth as both students and leaders was on display, too.
“I’ve had the opportunity to watch my colleagues and senators grow and learn to express themselves,” said Tucci. “It’s been heartwarming to watch my peers showcase their talents through events and otherwise.”
Ella Galvan, the current vice president of finance, began her speech by saying how she never thought she would serve on the USGA e-board. Despite being scared to take that next step, Galvan said she was glad to do so. Galvan also gave a shout out to Mary Lippa, the former USGA vice president for community, advocacy and diversity, who was sitting in the audience.
The USGA director of finance Secora Chambers was up next at the podium and began by admitting nervousness when first joining USGA. Chambers also thanked the professional staff and diversity peer educators at the Myatt Center for Diversity and Inclusion, who talked her into joining USGA.
Up next was the USGA sergeant-at-arms Sankofa Benzo, who commended the e-board for the work they did this academic year. Benzo highlighted some of the events that USGA hosted, including but not limited to the Black History Month Showcase, the Women Poets and Writers Spotlight and many others.
Benzo also said, “Student leadership and advocacy are such important aspects of the student experience.” She continued by saying how proud she was to accomplish all the goals she set for herself in this role.
There was a break from speeches to pass the medals onto the 2023-24 USGA e-board members: president-elect Darby Brown, vice president of engagement-elect Brisa Velazquez, vice president for community, advocacy and diversity-elect Youssef Ossama, vice president of finance-elect Ella Galvan, director of finance-elect Giselle Rau and sergeant-at-arms-elect Mason Smith.
While it is sad to see a close coming to a great team of students who care about the campus community, the incoming USGA e-board should be embraced due to their dedication and upcoming accomplishments for the 2023-24 academic year.