SA president-elect prepares herself for the seat of control

Carrie Potter says she is not accustomed to the fact she will be the next Student Association president.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet,” Potter said. “I don’t know when I’m finally going to realize it.”

photoThe role of student body president will not be a completely new one for Potter, though. She was student government president her senior year in high school.

Potter grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, the third of seven children. She spent 12 years in Catholic schools and was valedictorian of her graduating class. She says that being on her own, not being responsible for anyone but herself, was of the biggest adjustments she had to make at GW.

“When you’re from such a big family like I am, you have a lot of responsibility to each other and a lot of responsibility to your family as a whole,” she explains. “Here, it’s just me. I’m just responsible for me and making sure I get to class on time – not making sure everybody else does too.”

Potter says she left “safe surroundings” because she wanted to expose herself to new situations at GW.

“I came to GW because I saw it as an opportunity to challenge myself in a lot of ways. I had always been in such a secure environment, having such a strong family and having such strong background both religiously and educationally,” Potter says. “I wanted a new experience. It was an opportunity to get out and see things from a different perspective.”

Since arriving at GW, Potter has promoted the school to others. As a STAR, she gave tours to visiting high school seniors. Working in admissions, she fielded telephone questions from prospective students.

“Basically, I went to work every day and talked to people about my life,” Potter says. “(People would ask) `What do you like about GW, why did you come here?’ And it’s a great feeling to be able to talk to students.”

She says the best part of working as a STAR and with Colonial Inauguration comes after the fact, when she recognizes underclassmen she once showed around campus.

“The best feeling is that you see how you helped people come here and feel comfortable and make this their home,” Potter says. “You actually have an impact on that.”

Potter points to the two summers she spent working with CI as favorite times at GW. She says she will never forget the unique experience of managing and leading her peers through CI.

“The people I worked with, not just the other students,” Potter explains. “The staff and everybody who helped out with the program. It was an amazing experience.”

In her spare time, Potter plays on recreational basketball and softball teams. Last year, she found a way to combine her sports enthusiasm with her academic career. She is pursing a sports management degree through the School of Business and Public Management. Potter started out in the Columbian School of Arts and Sciences, but said decided to switch schools after taking a class on the Olympic Games her freshman year.

“After that I fell in love with the idea of working in sports, and I decided that the best way to go about it was through business,” she explains. “The program is excellent. I’m really happy with my classes.”

Naturally, the SA has formed a large part of Potter’s college life. She chairs the SA’s Academic Affairs Committee. Potter became involved in the SA because of the advice of older friends, who told her the SA would be a good way to take what she had accomplished with the Thurston Hall Council one step further.

“The SA was a way to get more involved on a larger level and reach more students,” she says.

Throughout the weeks of campaigning, Potter said she was asked why she wanted to be SA president many times. But she insists that she didn’t realize the answer until the most intense time, the weekend between the regular election and the runoff.

“I was talking to one of my little sisters the weekend before the runoff, when everybody was at a high stress level,” Potter remembers. “She says to me, `Why are you doing this, why exactly are you running?’ and it really became clear. It was because I really believed in doing things to help students; thinking like the average student and working for him or her.”

Potter said her desire to help students drove her ascent to the presidency.

“Looking back, all the leadership experiences I have had at GW have been serving students,” she says. “All these things have been starting at the point of service and they have continued through to this.”

While Potter may not be accustomed to her new position yet, she is no stranger to GW leadership. Since her freshman year she has been active in the GW community – she served as a Residence Hall Association representative for Thurston and planned community service projects as a member of Thurston’s executive board. She sat on the Colonial Cabinet for CI the summer after her freshman year, and worked at CI headquarters the following summer.

At CI headquarters, Potter was responsible for planning freshman orientation and for managing and leading members of the Colonial Cabinet.

Looking forward to next year’s SA, Potter says she intends to focus on diverse organization and academic enhancement programs. Most importantly, she says, she wants to have fun.

“We have to keep in mind that the goal of the SA is to reach a more diverse group of people and to bring them in,” Potter says. “I think the only way to do that is to really work hard and have fun doing it. You have to enjoy everything and make sure the people you bring in have that mindset.

“I’ve found that in work and school and everything you really need to make sure you are having a good time.”

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