New SGA Executives Start Work for Upcoming Year
Left to right: Brielle Lonsberry, Kyle Smith, Lea Harris, and Jay McKinney
While most students may not be on campus, that hasn’t stopped the Student Government Association (SGA) from electing and installing its new leadership. Brielle Lonsberry, a third-year biomedical engineering major, and Kyle Smith, a second-year public policy major, were recently sworn in as the new undergraduate executive president and vice president, respectively.
Lonsberry served as the vice president of Academic Affairs and chair of the Mental Health Network, and Smith was the School of Public Policy representative in the Undergraduate House of Representatives and co-chair of the Cultural and Diversity Affairs Committee.
The graduate SGA also elected its new leadership. Lea Harris, a Ph.D. student in aerospace engineering, will serve as the executive president, with Jay McKinney, a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering, as the vice president. Both were previously members of the Graduate Student Senate (GSS), and Harris chaired GSS and served on the Mandatory Student Fee Allocations Committee and Graduate Faculty Council.
Each pair has its own list of initiatives, though their first priority is monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. The new undergraduate executive cabinet will work with Georgia Tech’s response teams throughout the summer and into the fall. The graduate executives plan on doing the same as with their own new cabinet.
Lonsberry and Smith are looking forward to implementing some of the items from their original platform — from helping student organizations utilize Tech’s Safe Space, QPR, and Sexual Assault Prevention Trainings to establishing customized mental health platforms for specific student groups, including those who are traditionally underrepresented or studying abroad.
“It is so important that students don’t just receive enough mental health resources, but that those resources are customized and personal,” Lonsberry said.
Of course, the new executives won’t be starting entirely from scratch. They plan on building off of some of the initiatives started by previous years’ SGAs, most notably the Mini-Mesters. The one-credit hour, five-week-long course offerings allow students to explore material that isn’t usually taught in classrooms.
“Mini-Mesters provide an excellent opportunity to implement a variety of our platform goals, such as increasing sustainability-focused education into the current projects that SGA is working on,” Smith said.
Harris and McKinney, meanwhile, plan on developing a comprehensive resource platform for both undergraduate and graduate students that will allow students to access tailored recommendations for support resources and student organizations. While they understand that this project might take longer than their one-year term, they see starting it as an excellent way to continue improving lines of communication between SGA and the student body.
The undergraduate and graduate SGA executives also have a shared purpose: increasing students’ awareness of SGA and how it can serve them.
“Our goal is to work toward transparency and communication in such a way that students know what SGA is doing for them and how they can get involved or express their needs,” Harris and McKinney said. They believe it’s important for both sides of SGA to work together so that both undergraduate and graduate students can feel equally connected to SGA and the Institute as a whole.
When the 2020-21 academic year comes to an end, the executives all hope to be able to look back and see that they have made a difference at Georgia Tech. For now, though, they’re simply humbled by the opportunity to serve and excited to get to work.
“I am so proud to call Tech home, and I am committed to working relentlessly to make sure it feels the same for you,” Lonsberry said.
Students can visit the SGA website to find out how to get involved and stay up to date on the organization’s initiatives throughout the year.