On April 1, Rachel Shoemaker was elected SGA president with 766 votes.
The junior communication studies major from Taylorsville has participated in numerous organizations such as the Luckyday Scholars program, Eagle Connection and the Tri-Delta Sorority. Shoemaker also served as a university ambassador on the Southern Style team.
Shoemaker credits her rise to leadership and service to the SGA’s Freshman Associates branch. By participating in the freshman focus group, Shoemaker found her passion to run for SGA president.
“Through Freshman Associates, I met some of the greatest mentors that invested in me right from the bat. It was about the middle of my sophomore year that I decided that I wanted to give back. I wanted to do the same thing for students and be that role model and voice for them,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker credits many former SGA leaders as mentors, such as former SGA president Michael Matrick, SGA election-commissioner Madison Crimm, Kayley Safley, Katie Rogers and SGA adviser Amanda Jo Ladner.
As a peer mentor on Southern Style, Safley watched Shoemaker grow as a leader.
“Rachel is very dynamic and ambitious. She is strategic and thoughtful in how she chooses to pursue goals. I think this is very important in a SGA president, because it shows how she will strive to do what is best as a representative of the student body and she won’t hesitate to put in the hard work,” Safley said.
Shoemaker’s campaign slogan was “New Ideas, New Beginnings, Fresh Start,” which she later elaborated on.
“By ‘new ideas’, I am working on creating a bus transit system app so that students know where the bus is located on campus at specific times. On my ‘new beginnings’ part, I actually want to partner with a lot of different organizations on campus filling the gap between SGA and these groups. My ‘fresh start’ is listening to students doing surveys since we have a lot of space for change,” Shoemaker explained.
From Shoemaker’s surveys, she saw many people shared the same concerns: lack of parking, being unsure if their needs were being heard by university officials and a possible SGA partnership with the Office of Multicultural Services.
Shoemaker said she is confident that, despite the pressure associated with the position of president, she will be fine, especially with help from both her team and mentors.
“It’s a job with a lot of pressure that comes with it. I am now a representative of thousands of students and that is scary, but I cannot do it without the support that I have been given. I have had a lot of people come up to me and say I’m the right person for this job and I could not have done it without support like that. Just all of the encouragement from all students I have encountered just lets me know that I am ready for this job and to take on this next year,” Shoemaker said.
With this support, Shoemaker has already conducted two meetings with the newly elected SGA executive officers. She also held a virtual Institute of Higher Learning meeting, where she also received guidance from the outgoing SGA president, Michael Matrick.
“Rachel was extremely excited for her first IHL meeting, just as I was a short year ago. She got along very well with her colleagues at the other sister institutions and everyone got along wonderfully. She absolutely cannot wait until the next one to further advocate and brag about our beloved institution,” Matrick said.
Shoemaker said her biggest goal is to make sure students are comfortable at Southern Miss and coming to SGA or to her directly.
“Whether I can connect them to some resources or put them in contact with somebody I just want students to know that I am a resource to them. I am in this job for them, not my own sake,” Shoemaker said.