By Lexus Yamashiro | Staff Writer

On Monday, April 22, Student Congress announced that fourth-year student Allyson Villanueva, who ran unopposed, has been elected to serve as its president for the 2018-2019 school year.

The 26-year-old’s exposure to Student Congress began in Fall 2017 as she attended its twice a month meetings to represent the New Media Arts club, a Registered Independent Organization of KCC. Majoring in Interface Design through the NMA program and serving as the president of NMA club, Villanueva’s decision to run for Student Congress is what she described as spontaneous, believing that she saw potential in herself to run for a position that mirrors her current status.

“I think the things that we discuss in the congress meetings was very close to my own values, and I feel like, ‘Oh, why not be the voice for student body, why not help make a difference?'” Villanueva said. “I’m just one person, but with people getting involved and seeing perspectives from students, faculty, and staff, I think that’s important.”

Seeing this as an opportunity to give back to the college, Villanueva decided to run for president. Throughout the election period, which lasted from April 10-20, the Liliha native has put thought into some of the issues and concerns that she would like to address next school year that involve financial and personal needs.

“I just hear a lot from my peers and other students … [and] I feel like there are small things that we could do to make going to school more enjoyable or small things that could help student success,” Villanueva said.

Based on her observations of Student Congress meetings, Villanueva hopes to continue looking into the possibility of providing the Interactive Digital Access Program as an alternative resource for course textbooks and the addition of more mental health counselors on campus.

Villanueva also has high hopes that serving as Student Congress president will allow her the opportunity to improve campus enrollment and ultimately keep students on campus.

“I feel like highlighting our successes as KCC with different programs … just making it fun, like have events, get people involved, get friends to come out, and have a good time,” she said. “I mean, that’s what community is. I think if people understand or share the same values then that’s how we can get people to stay.”

As Villanueva prepares to take over the position as president, Student Congress’ faculty advisor Shannon Sakaue will be working closely with her and the rest of the new team to gear up for the next school year.

“Ally’s becoming more and more outspoken, speaking up when she wants to share her opinion. I’ve seen that development with her just as a general member, so I’m excited to see how things will be in the future,” Sakaue said. “I’m most excited for her to be a part of big-level discussions and realize that the student voice really does matter. She will have a platform to where she can use the voice of the student body to really make change on campus for things that the student body wants.”

Ismael Salameh continues to serve as Student Congress’ president until the spring semester comes to an end. As Salameh prepares to transfer to UH Mānoa, he is hopeful that the continuity factor of what Student Congress has been addressing and discussing in its meetings will occur throughout Villanueva’s presidency.

“I would love to see her take the organization, continue on the momentum and progress even further as there are many more issues that can be solved and many bigger issues that can be solved,” Salameh said. “I’m excited for her, but more so, it’s really what she wants to do in the sense that it will be her form of leadership, it’ll be her visions where she wants to take the organization.”

Before the Fall 2018 semester begins, Villanueva will be stepping down from her position as president for NMA club and will pass it on to her vice president, second-year student Romina Escano. Escano, who is majoring in New Media Arts with a concentration in Interface Design, looks forward to what Villanueva will be able to provide as Student Congress president for the campus and NMA club.

“She’s an excellent role model to the students around her and has so much to give back to the school,” Escano wrote in an email. “As for the NMA club and program, Ally’s presidency would be a way for the NMA club and program to get back in touch with the school. We’re all in our own little bubble that we tend to forget about the things happening in our school, so Ally would basically be our lifeline. My cohort and I are very grateful for the things Ally has done for us, so we’re excited to see what she will achieve in student congress.”

As the upcoming school year approaches, Villanueva ultimately envisions that improvements in how those on campus interact and build connections will occur.

“I do want to build more unity between students and the CSOs, even with student activities and BOSA, I feel like there could be more unity. Together we can spread awareness and get student involvement,” Villanueva said. “Let us know what you need and let us help you.”