By Hayden Choate
In the fall of 2018, Nora Fitzgerald entered her freshman year on the Springfield College campus, ready for new experiences.
At the time, she wouldn’t have seen herself as a leader or someone who took on a leadership role. Now, three years later, she is Vice President of Student Affairs for the Student Government Association (SGA) and works closely with Dr. Slandie Diejuste, the new Vice President of Student Affairs, and is an intern at the Office. of non-discrimination. Initiatives.
âI honestly feel like a very different person than when I first came here,â said Fitzgerald. âDuring my stay here, I have formed very good relationships with many teachers and professors. They kind of helped me see that I really love doing this kind of work and getting things done on campus and I love it here so I want it to be as awesome as possible for everyone.
As Student Vice President of Student Affairs, Fitzgerald works closely with Ari Susi, President of the SGA, in her goal of âbuilding the bridgeâ between the student body and administration.
âBasically we’re trying to connect with students or different groups of students,â Fitzgerald said. âSee what they might need from the administration, see what the administration might not hear because the administration doesn’t quite have all ears on the ground like that. “
The SGA hosted its own âBuild the Bridgeâ event, a forum for students to ask questions of the administration, moderated by Fitzgerald and Susi.
âWhat I, Ari, and the rest of SGA are trying to do is basically provide a space for students to ask questions,â Fitzgerald said. âTell us what they need, then we do what we can with our resources here to see who we can contact to make these things change for them or just fill in the gaps with what might be missing on campus. “
In addition to her leadership role with SGA, Fitzgerald also interned with Erin Leeper, Director of Non-Discrimination / Title IX Administrator and 504 Coordinator.
âThe office itself is a one-woman office, there’s only Erin in there,â Fitzgerald said. “I’ve helped her with a lot of educational programs, we do residency programs with students, and then we do a lot of presentations in the Union and things like that.”
Fitzgerald started her internship in January and in addition to outreach work on campus, she worked on a proposal last semester.
âI was able to work on a proposal last year on a restorative justice policy,â Fitzgerald said. âWhat this means is that I was looking for ways to deal with Title IX cases and sexual misconduct cases in a less punitive way and more akin to a reformatory, instead of just facing it. to a punishment that would commit the offender to correct his behavior and prevent more incidents. in the future.”
Now that she has experience as a leader on campus, Fitzgerald knows what it takes.
âI think it’s really important as a leader to show up and be ready for anything,â Fitzgerald said. âIn a way, understanding what the people around you need and working to make it better for them, I think it’s really important to connect with the students and see what’s missing on campus. “
Thinking of a leader she admires, Fitzgerald thanks her mother.
âMy mom has been a very influential person in my life,â Fitzgerald said. âEspecially in a way that I go to work and school, she’s always been super super feminist and just, ‘you can tackle anything you want’, so I just watched her for a lot of. advice with that because she works in a nonprofit and in human resources and is very engaged with people and always makes sure that her company is doing its best to serve the people it is intended to serve.
Fitzgerald certainly saw how it affected her becoming a leader on campus and what she tried to accomplish.
“I think I’m taking a lot of advice from her to try to make my college experience and just make the most of everything and make sure it’s the best environment for everyone involved.”
In her senior year, Fitzgerald has goals she would like to accomplish in addition to helping with the “Build the Bridge” campaign.
âThis year, I hope to involve everyone as much as possible,â said Fitzgerald. âI think since COVID has taken so much of our time, I think everyone is really anxious to get back to it and just started running. I just can’t wait to work a lot more with Ari and a lot more with Dr Slandie and Annie [Warchol] and see what we can do to make sure students have the best possible experience.
Photo courtesy of Nora Fitzgerald