Candidate Guide Cover 1

For the 2020 student elections, there are seven students running to be the student body president for the 2020-2021 school year. Find out a little more about these candidates and some of their favorites at Texas A&M.

EVAN BERGER

AGRICULTURAL LEADERSHIP AND DEVELOPMENT JUNIOR from Katy, TX

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION?

Within my three years at Texas A&M, I’ve served the university in many different capacities. After spending two years in the Student Senate, this felt like the role for me because I’ve always had a passion for the students here at A&M. I don’t think there’s any one quality that truly identifies a leader or one quality that makes you qualified to be the student body president. Combining my passion for the university, the students and my drive to serve this place and these students makes me the biggest advocate and representation of the Aggie family. That’s something that makes me extremely qualified for this role.

WHAT IS YOUR PLATFORM?

My platform is going to consist of three major pieces: reunite, renew and reflect. All of those are going to center around bringing us back into one big Aggie family and making sure we can reunite this campus. We also need to renew a lot of programs that might have fallen into disrepair and reflect on a lot of initiatives taken by past members of student government and how we can continue to take the right ones and put them into better practice for the future.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

I would have to pick Dr. Joe Townsend, who is a former faculty member at A&M, and I got the opportunity to meet him a little bit earlier this year. I came to find that he is one of the most interesting and influential people that I’ve ever met in my life. If I could, I would sit on his couch and listen to him tell stories for weeks. I would just be tuned in and focused because he and his wife have so much wisdom to share and they are just such positive, inviting and welcoming people.

WHAT IS YOUR AGGIE STORY?

I was born to two transplanted Texans: a mom who is a Vanderbilt Commodore and a dad who is a Syracuse Orange, whatever that is. Because of that, I was done the incredible disservice of not being introduced to Texas A&M at a very young age. Thankfully, I had an older brother who just was all about rebelling against everything that could be rebelled against. He went out and he learned about this school called A&M and absolutely fell in love with the place. As I got older, he shared that love with me and everything that he knew about the university. He just got me interested enough to want to learn more and he kind of sparked what became a fiery passion for this university. So as I got older, I actually found that one of my passions in this world is for the agricultural industry. That’s one of the things I'm very driven to make better, influence in a positive way and just something that I always want to be a part of. After falling in love with the industry, I got to spend a lot of time working on different agricultural projects when I was in high school. It just seemed like a really perfect fit to go and study ag in college, so moving forward, I looked at different universities that were the best in the field. Obviously, A&M was just one of these standout universities in the field of agriculture, and in my opinion it is by far the best. The more I really figured out what I wanted to do, I also found that another passion of mine was for leadership. Whenever I found that my passions lie in agriculture and leadership, I actually got to find that there is a program that does exactly that at A&M; the agricultural leadership and development major. It's a program within the Ag Leadership, Education and Communications Department. When I found out, it just felt like an incredibly natural fit. Luckily, I was blessed to get into A&M as a freshman and I never looked back. It's been an incredible experience. I've absolutely loved it and I have absolutely no regrets. I love this university. I love getting to be on campus and be studying what I want. I just love my department, I love all of the faculty and the students. You know, I'm incredibly blessed and incredibly lucky to call myself a fightin’ Texas. Aggie.

SHELBY LEPLEY

AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS JUNIOR from Huntsville, TX

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION?

I have been involved in student organizations on campus in a number of ways within my department, college and the university as a whole. Whether it’s the student council for the College of Ag and Life Sciences or SGA’s development commission or being involved with MSC ALOT or MSC SCONA, I’ve gained very valuable lessons on how to be an effective leader. I’ve held several different internships outside of Texas A&M that have allowed me to see how A&M interacts with the rest of the world. I’ve interned with the United Nations, and I know how to work with diverse groups of people and make sure that we’re working together for purposeful action.

WHAT IS YOUR PLATFORM?

My platform is divided into four areas: moving Aggies, leading Aggies, Aggie success and we are the Aggies. Moving Aggies looks at transportation and access to student services and healthy dining options on campus. Looking at student organizations and leading Aggies, it’s really important that we empower our student orgs and make sure they have the tools to give to their student body. When we look at Aggie success in classroom learning. I would really like the opportunity to work with administration to help make class curriculum more consistent. Finally, we come to we are the Aggies, and it’s probably where I’m the most passionate. It refers to diversity, it refers to inclusivity, but also bringing people in to invest in Aggie Core Values, tradition, spirit and the Aggie family.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

If I could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, it would have to be my nana and papa. These would be the grandparents on my dad’s side. They died when I was very young, but there were lots of lessons I learned from them through my parents, like selfless service. Since I didn’t get the opportunity to build a relationship with them, I would most certainly want to sit down, have dinner and just talk to them.

WHAT IS YOUR AGGIE STORY?

In terms of my Aggie story, it really starts with my family. I was raised on Aggie core values. That’s something that’s very dear to me and that both my parents highlighted heavily. When I was growing up she just wanted me to have a great education. She took me all across the state of Texas, showing me different schools and of course would take me to Texas A&M. While she didn't care where I went, her emphasis on the Aggie spirit really drew me to this school. There were Aggies that invested in her and made sure that she was successful, and I knew that this was where my family was at and where my friends would come from. I definitely wanted to be at a school with the same core values as myself. So without a doubt, there was no question. When it came time for my high school graduation, I would attend A&M.

TREY DANIEL RICHARDSON

AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS JUNIOR from Aransas Pass, TX

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION?

I have served in SGA, and that really sets me apart from the other candidates because, while serving in SGA, I learned the proper avenues and routes for working with administration. When the student body wants to accomplish things, the truth is SGA has the ability to accomplish a lot of excellent things, but oftentimes that is overlooked because people don’t know the proper routes to take. With that being said, I also have experience outside of SGA, which allows me to have a connection with the average student who’s not in SGA and listen to them about what they want.

WHAT IS YOUR PLATFORM?

My platform is based on four pillars: health, transportation, communication and campus engagement and enrichment. For health, we want to create a system at Texas A&M so that no matter where students go on campus, there is a very apparent and advertised healthy option for them. If elected student body president, it would be to work with transportation systems to create an incentive program for students who are riding the bus on and off campus; and I will ask Texas A&M to invest more to fix and alleviate the parking problem. My next one is communication. I have seen the need to hold our elected student leaders accountable and increase SGA’s visibility to the student body. My last one is campus engagement and enrichment. We really want to properly honor those who have come before us and continue the momentum of the Matthew Gaines initiative by having an executive cabinet member solely working on the committee to raise funds.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Norman Borlaug. He is the only man to win a Nobel Peace Prize for his work and contributions in the field of agriculture. He is one of the people who founded the Green Revolution, as they called it in the 1970s, and is accredited for saving over a billion lives. He was the man who inspired me in high school and still does today as I work toward my future career goals of international agriculture development by going to countries and helping them develop their agriculture sector, which is the cornerstone of any economy. Being able to pick his brain and learn about his passions and what he would have to say about today’s international field would be remarkable.

WHAT IS YOUR AGGIE STORY?

My Aggie story is that I kinda moved around a lot as a kid. My dad served 20 years in the Navy; I’m very proud of that. With that, I kinda grew up half of my life in Texas and half in Florida. While I was attending high school in Florida, I made a visit to Texas A&M and even though it was during the summer, and there weren't a lot of students on campus, I fell in love with the feeling of the place, the atmosphere and the traditions. I could really feel something when I walked on campus that was different than any other place we visited, so I made up my mind to come to A&M. Now with that came its own set of challenges. I was moving 18 hours away from my family, I had to pay out-of-state tuition and I didn’t know anyone coming to A&M. So I enrolled in Fish Camp, the last session, hoping that I could find some friends there. That is where my Aggie story begins, in my opinion, because there I made friends that I am still friends with today and I know I will love and cherish for a lifetime. Even though I didn't know anyone going to A&M, my Fish Camp really gave me a family that I could rely on and that I could use as a support system throughout my time at A&M. The more I got involved in the different organizations and what-not at A&M, the more that I saw how powerful the Aggie family was, how strong the traditions were at A&M and just how special a place Aggieland really was. I, like many other students, found our traditions very dumbfounding, for lack of a better word, and that made me want to be a part of the traditions. That led to me serving as the treasurer for the Class of 2021 for two years, ultimately running for class president and becoming the junior class president. I served on the Muster committee and eventually served two years as a Fish Camp counselor. I was able to provide the same support system that was provided to me. Now, I feel like I'm in the position where I want to give back to the university that has given so much to me.

ERIC MENDOZA

ECONOMICS JUNIOR from Houston, TX

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION?

I was elected as a freshman representative and for the past two sessions have continued as an off-campus senator. I currently serve as a speaker of the Student Senate for the 72nd session where I have learned the intricacies of SGA and what it takes to make change happen on this campus. This has allowed me to build relationships that I hope to utilize throughout this next year.

WHAT IS YOUR PLATFORM?

I want to focus on three things: communication, continuity and collaboration. For communication, I want to make sure you are able to communicate with us and that the student government is able to reciprocate change. For collaboration, I want to ensure our fantastic SGA committees are working with colleges around campus to get them the resources they need and to get all student voices heard, to have a unified student voice. For continuity, I want to ensure I can continue to work on things I have done for the past three years, such as the Fall Break Initiative, Matthew Gaines Initiative and increasing parking around campus.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

For my dinner guest, I would choose Bill Gates. Not only is he an incredible businessman, but also a better philanthropist. I have gotten the opportunity to visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle and see the work they do, and if you haven’t, I encourage you to take a look at it.

WHAT IS YOUR AGGIE STORY?

As a second generation Aggie — mom Class of ‘86, dad Class of ‘87, sister Class of ‘17 — I have always loved this university and knew I wanted to become an Aggie someday. So much so that I only applied to one university: Texas A&M. I could not have been more pleased with my decision.

EDGAR RIVERA

POLITICAL SCIENCE JUNIOR from Everman, TX

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION?

Throughout my time here at Texas A&M I’ve been involved in a number of organizations across campus and I’ve also been an activist. Any time I see something on this campus I feel can be improved on, I’ve worked with organizations and community leaders to start new initiatives and create new resources to address the issues that affect people from all across the university. On top of that, I have experience in SGA. I’m not afraid to put my voice out there, as I’ve always wanted to provide equal opportunity for all.

WHAT IS YOUR PLATFORM?

I’m running on a three-point platform of representation, access and success. Throughout my time here, I’ve noticed some disadvantages or struggles that affect people from my community, first generation students or people of color. Representation: having more representation through mental health resources, faculty and staff and physical pieces around campus. Access: A&M has an array of resources which have helped students in my community and communities all across campus, but they need to be easily reachable for all students. Success: making sure every student has an equal opportunity to succeed whether they come from a low socioeconomic background or they’re a person of color.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

Kobe Bryant was somebody I looked up to as a basketball fan since I was probably 6-years-old. I modeled my motivations and attitudes to succeed after him. I learned a lot from his mentality to push himself further than ever before.

WHAT IS YOUR AGGIE STORY?

My Aggie story has a long list of people who have helped me, and ever since I came here, I’ve wanted to just give back. My decision to come to Texas A&M was mostly related to my major. I had to decide if I was going to stay closer to home and do engineering or move away and major in political science. I ended up making the decision to move away and immediately found a home away from home at A&M. I joined organizations, had mentors who really showed me how to be an Aggie. Over time, I became a mentor for other students. People from my community, first-generation, Latinx students and everyone who needed a helping hand as I did. Adjusting to a new place away from home can be difficult. I always thought it was important that we have as many resources as possible, and the best resource is people.

CALEB ZUNIGA

ECONOMICS JUNIOR from Cedar Creek, TX

WHAT QUALIFIES YOU FOR THIS POSITION?

Throughout my involvement at Texas A&M, I have always tried to be a leader from within. I have always preferred to be hands-on and see tasks through from start to finish. I will use this same leadership quality as student body president, meeting with students and student leaders to help reach our goals. If there is any change we would like to see here on campus, we have to roll up our sleeves and come together as a student body to make a better future for students at A&M.

WHAT IS YOUR PLATFORM?

My platform includes three things. The first thing is connecting traditions to students. Being a first-generation college student and Aggie, I have found my community here through the traditions that we hold so dear. As a student body president, I would like to help connect those traditions to students who may not partake in the same things. My second thing is student safety. The most important thing here at A&M is the safety of our students. You cannot have a healthy academic environment if students do not feel safe. It would be my goal to have every student not feel worried about if they are safe here, on- or off-campus. And the third thing is supporting our Aggie family. As student body president, I would like to work with student leaders in helping strengthen their outreach to our Aggie family and helping people in our student body find their community.

IF YOU COULD HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE, WHO WOULD IT BE?

If I could have dinner with anyone dead or alive, I would have to go with John David Crow. He was the first Heisman Trophy winner for A&M, and I would just love to meet with him and talk about what it was like as a student here when it was an all-male military college. I’d ask him about Aggie football back then and see if there was any correlation to now, and just talk to him about what it was like to be an Aggie in the 1950s.

WHAT IS YOUR AGGIE STORY?

My Aggie story began during my senior year of high school. I really didn’t know where I was going to go, being a first generation college student. My high school student council advisor, who was a redass Aggie, Class of ‘93, actually reached out to me and she told me everything I needed to know about Texas A&M. It was a 15-minute conversation, but I say it was a 21-minute conversation. And right after that, I was sold. I told her immediately this was pretty much the only place I was going to apply, hoping that I would get in. Thankfully, I was able to be a part of Blinn TEAM, and as soon as I came here I joined the Corps of Cadets where I found my Aggie family and my community here at A&M. Through the Corps, I have been able to be involved all over campus, including Traditions Council, Fish Camp and the Big Event. I have really found a great community and really embraced myself within the traditions here at A&M.

Note: David Cabrera filed after print. The Battalion staff is reaching out to him for an interview.

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