Student Senate Welcomes New Members as Gossitt Joins State Board
Student Senate at Governors State University (GSU) welcomed six new members last week. Freshman Angel Jackson and sophomores Terrence Lee and Janelle Butler were nominated to represent their classes, while Stephanie Zwartz took the College of Arts and Sciences seat, and Brian Stone won the Member-At-Large position. His peers elected Juan Gutierrez as the new Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) Student Representative from GSU, filling the vacancy left by Akya Gossitt's nomination to the IBHE State Board earlier this fall.
Gossitt, an undergraduate student in the social work program, said that she's looking forward to working as a student advocate at the state level. The 31-year-old is the current Non-Traditional Student Board Member for IBHE.
"As a future social worker and as someone who is really big on policy and knowing how those decisions are made, this nomination allows me to really sit at that table," Gossitt said. "I'm excited. I'm loving it. This allows me to bring back more opportunities to GSU."
As a result of her election, Governors State will host an IBHE Student Advisory Council meeting in March. The meeting will bring board members and student representatives from across the state to the GSU campus.
Gossitt speaks candidly of the path that brought her to social work and advocacy. Raised by a mother, now deceased, who suffered with drug addiction, she wants to use her own empowerment to help others. Now a single mother, she often brings her sons to campus.
"Those things are like scars of honor and scars of triumph," Gossitt said. "I went through enough. I want to make sure that people understand that you don't have to do that, and and I also want to set an example. I'm a non-traditional student. I am a single mother with two kids. I want to finish my bachelor's, get my master's, my LCSW [licensed clinical social worker], and I haven't thought as far as my PhD. My big dream is to start my own social service and humanitarian foundation. I want to cater to displaced populations, veterans, disabled populations. I want to do all of it. I want to have residential programs for teens and guide them in the right direction, but I also want to do service work internationally."
"I also want to educate especially younger people before they even get to the college level on how important policy is," she added. "Policy is extremely important to you as an individual, as an employee, a student—and no one is going to come to you and say 'Hey, here's all the hypocritical policy that we have in place.' You have to learn how to read it and how to change it."