Olivia LeBlanc, 21, is a junior psychology/Spanish double major from New Orleans, LA. On April 1, she shared her emotions when realizing she won the Vice Presidency position running for it her second time.
“I honestly bursted into happy tears because I truly believe in the power of Senate and what it can do and I was more than honored that the student body believed in me to do this job.”
Olivia recounts not seeing herself in SGA when coming to Southern Miss as a freshman but was recommended to do it by her Gamma Chi leader during sorority recruitment. Having experience in her Speech and Debate team in high school, LeBlanc found herself thriving in SGA’s Freshman Associate branch serving as the senate liason for freshman forum.
LeBlanc ran on the platform of Reform, Rely, and Represent to reform senate to be more purposeful and reliable to fully represent the Southern Miss student body. With running on the same platform she ran on last year losing, she shares what made her want to run for election again helping aid in the new transition of SGA’s restructure.
“What made me want to run again is not that there was anything wrong with senate, but I think that with the restructuring of SGA that we passed I saw opportunities for senate to restructure too, and through that be more purposeful. I just viewed this as even more of an opportunity than last year. I was telling my friends that I was kinda glad that I didn’t win last year because I wouldn’t have had the opportunity this year and the inspiration to do what I want to do through senate,” said LeBlanc.
In her time serving in Senate, Leblanc passed legislation that the Institution of Higher Learning would create a committee for mental health for college students to look into resources on campuses to enhance our resources for mental health under the leadership of past SGA president McKenna Stone. History education major, Katie Newsome, 21 shared her thoughts on Olivia’s abilities and why she supported LeBlanc in her campaign.
“Olivia is authentic, genuine, and passionate about serving the students of campus and producing real results. She has proved this throughout the campus-changing legislation she’s passed while serving on senate as a senator. Supporting Olivia in the campaign was a very easy decision for these reasons,” said Newsome.
Alongside this, LeBlanc with a fellow senate leader redid the constitution to restructure SGA to make it more accessible for students and an active member of the academic scheduling and calendar committee which is still in progress changing the class times from 90 minutes to new plans. Communication Studies major Rebecca Reed, 21, describes the impact of LeBlanc’s work in SGA being able to serve in this new position well.
“I think Olivia has been challenged in SGA and grown through those challenges. I have seen members of SGA lean on her for encouragement, guidance, and leadership. Her most important role that has prepared her for this position was serving as Senate Pro-Temp this year where she oversaw legislation and senators. This position proves why Olivia’s experiences qualify her for this position. The best leaders are ones with experience and passion, she has both,” shared Reed.
New changes Leblanc is bringing is to change the campus living committee to student life committee and the creation of a campus safety committee sharing her reasoning behind this.
“We know that campus safety is a concern of students, so we are wanting to look into how we can work with UPD and Dr. Anderson to represent students better. We found that campus living kinda excluded students who didn’t live on campus and so wanted to have one for student life in general. Through that, I’m going to work with the committee chairs hoping to have representatives for parking and transit services and housing and residence life having direct communication with these departments which I have seen senate struggle with before, so it is hard to get these things done when we don’t have these relationships.”
In progress of her new working goals as Vice President, LeBlanc reflects on her time from last year losing the previous election to still stand strong and serve her student body selflessly.
“Losing that election, I’m not going to lie was devastating to me. That was something I had my heart set on, so coming back to senate that year was not easy, but my drive for students did put me there. Honestly, I was not going to run again this year. I had the one-and-done attitude until about a week before applications closed and I just felt God telling me that it was my time.”
From giving credit to her mentors and supporters like Southern Miss Alum Carrie Anne Bounds, and Office of Orientation and Transition Programs graduate assistant Katie Rogers and staff Kayla Rogers with her sorority sisters LeBlanc felt the support necessary to leave her impact leaving Southern Miss better than she found sharing what she wants to take away from this experience.
“I would like to leave campus better than I found it. Through this position I’m hoping to take away new friendships. Senate is so much fun and an opportunity to build relationships not only with students but with faculty and administration. I’ve been facetiming so many faculty members just building those relationships and I think it is so unique to SGA building those relationships knowing that I can always come back to Southern Miss when I need to.”
With all of this experience in LeBlanc’s time on campus, she has learned many life lessons through wins, losses, acceptances, and rejections, but with an unwavering passion to serve Southern Miss LeBlanc would do it all again and recommends others to do the same in similar circumstances
“I was humbled by losing, it gave me an extra year of experience to really have the skills that I needed to do what I wanted to do. I don’t feel that last year I would’ve been nearly as prepared as I am this year to do this. I think that anybody who may end up in this position in the future, going for something again you’ve been rejected from to go for it. You never know what is going to happen. I didn’t think I was going to win the election that night with everything going virtual, however when there is a plan for you it’s going to happen,” said LeBlanc.
To get into contact with senate at the moment with applications opening soon for new members email LeBlanc as Olivia.Leblanc@usm.edu.