Four Campaign College participants win GSB elections

Four out of five Campaign College attendees who ran for Iowa State’s Government of the Student Body won their elections on March 7.

Anna Olsen, Kalli Weber, Megan Sweere and Peter Myers were elected to the GSB Senate for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Olsen, a senior in microbiology, and Weber, a freshman in agronomy, will represent the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Sweere, a junior in supply chain management, will represent the College of Business. Myers, a sophomore in pre-business, was a write-in candidate. He will represent the Iowa Residence Hall Association.

Campaign College helped 20 students develop the skills necessary to be elected to ISU’s GSB as well as to serve as a well-rounded leader on campus. The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics hosted this workshop on Jan. 18.

“This was a great way to inform students, especially women, on leadership opportunities here at Iowa State. Having the Catt Center involved really reinforced our mission of engaging and educating students in the political process and making them proactive citizens,” said Valerie Hennings, scholar-in-residence at the Catt Center and adjunct assistant professor of political science.

Although Campaign College was designed and open to all Iowa State students, the workshop especially encouraged and empowered women to become more involved in campus leadership.

Throughout the day, students participated in different activities to help build confidence in their own leadership style and develop crucial campaigning skills. Students were challenged to brainstorm issues that were most important to them and, more specifically, how to communicate their message.

As a way to help students start visualizing themselves in these leadership roles, attendees participated in a campaign simulation in which they created and practiced elevator speeches on one another.

“I was astounded that a lot of my peers had the same issues and concerns as me,” Olsen said. “I learned how to communicate effectively, but still be persuasive toward the goals and issues that I wanted to talk about.”

Another key aspect of the day focused on networking and role models. Speakers, who were primarily women, ranged from student leaders and current members of GSB to Iowa State faculty, staff and alumnae. Current student leaders provided examples of their leadership experiences and shared how they balanced their positions with their classes and other responsibilities.

The two keynote speakers – Dr. Deborah Turner, a gynecologic oncologist with Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, and Sophia Magill, assistant director of government relations at Iowa State – are alumnae who discussed how being a student leader impacted their life after college as well as how to define one’s personal leadership style.

“The speakers were phenomenal,” Olsen said. “I thought it was interesting how Dr. Turner applied the communication aspect of politics to her scientific and medical career, especially when politics and science are normally two fields that I don’t associate together.”

At Iowa State and nationally, women are underrepresented in college student government. Women students currently comprise 38.33 percent of GSB – across branches – at Iowa State. “This is one of the reasons why Campaign College targeted female students,” Hennings said. Of the 20 students who attended Campaign College, 18 were women.

“Even if you don’t consider yourself politically active, this was a huge networking and leadership learning opportunity,” Olsen said. “I would highly recommend Campaign College to all students, especially freshmen, who want to try something new. You never know what you are capable of until you try.”

The Catt Center plans to offer Campaign College every other year, with the next workshop planned for January 2016.

“It’s very exciting to see the students in action, using the skills we worked on and practiced during the workshop,” Hennings said. “Campaign College provided a great foundation for these students to achieve their goals, while making a positive change on Iowa State’s campus.”