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New student regent ambitious

BY CARLY MATTHEW | MARCH 10, 2015 5:00 AM

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From being elected to student council in middle school to becoming a University of Northern Iowa Student Government senator, UNI freshman Rachael Johnson considers leadership “an incredible passion of [hers].”

On May 1, Johnson will begin her next big leadership opportunity, serving as the student regent on the state Board of Regents. Her appointment is still subject to Iowa Senate confirmation.

“I just really wanted to be able to make a difference not only here on our campus at UNI but across the entire state, and this is the perfect opportunity to do that,” said Johnson, a Sioux City native.

Of the regents’ nine members, the governor must appoint one member who is a full-time student at one of the regent universities at the time of her or his appointment.

University of Iowa senior Hannah Walsh is the current student regent. Her term will expire April 30.

“There’s no difference between the student and regent and a regent,” Walsh told The Daily Iowan. “You have the same voting power, you’re in the same term — it’s all the same. You’re just a student as well.”

Walsh said her best piece of advice for Johnson would be to educate herself on issues pertaining to all the regent schools, including the two other regent universities, as well as the special schools for blind and deaf students.

“[Walsh has] been an amazing student regent, and so I want to thank for her for her time in office and all she’s done as well,” Johnson said.

She said, as a regent, she would like to continue Walsh’s work and to be highly accessible to students from each of the regent schools.

“My biggest goal overall would have to be just to be able to be a voice for all the students across Iowa,” Johnson said. “I want students to feel as though they can approach me, and I’ll take what they said to the board.”

Johnson is double majoring in elementary- and middle-level education with a minor in literacy education.

As UNI student government senator, Johnson is ambassador to the College of Education and is on both the campus relations and Pepsi Grant Fund committees — the latter of which gives money from the school’s Pepsi exclusivity contract to student groups.

“I feel like, with going to education and being a regent, it’s a perfect opportunity to understand the field of education even deeper,” she said.

UNI Student Body President Kevin Gartman said when he was asked to nominate individuals that he felt would make great student regents, he knew Johnson would be a great fit.

“[Johnson] has a positive and happy personality that she is able to blend well with a professional attitude,” he said.

Blake Findley, UNI’s former student body vice president, nominated Johnson for similar reasons and said she had a “great sense of humor and is a fantastic conversationalist” as well as being “incredibly smart, hardworking, and passionate.”

“She is always one of the first to volunteer to do anything,” he said. “Moreover, she also gets it done and done well, which is something students have a hard time doing.”

For now, Johnson said she is studying up on the current regents’ projects.

“I’m just excited to learn all that the board does and has to offer,” she said.

Chris Higgins contributed reporting to this story.


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