Hometown: Tampa, Fla.
Major: Africana studies
Student organizations/Activities: ACE Magazine, National Association of Black Journalists, Colonial Inauguration, Public Service Grant Commission
Previous SA experience: CCAS senator, vice chair of the academic affairs committee
Favorite GWorld spot: Georgetown Safeway
Favorite off-campus spot: National Gallery of Art
Dream job: Making sure all stories from marginalized communities are being represented in the media
Fun fact: In elementary school, I was part of a girl group, and we used to practice on the playground and we used to sing songs. Every other Friday we would have performances after school.
Favorite place in the world: Paris
Favorite movie: “Princess Bride”
Role model: My mom, Oprah, any black woman who has been successful and overcome adversity
ShanTorrian Underwood’s bid for Student Association president is personal.
Nearly all of her policy proposals are based on her personal experiences and struggles at the University. As a first-generation student and a student of color, Underwood said her platform includes ideas to improve the student experience for peers just like her.
“The goal is to make sure I have a platform where I can bring other students to the table,” Underwood said. “That is what I want to do and that is what I’m going to do. I’m not here to just have the title and position and not do anything. I’m here to do work. I’m here to make change happen.”
Underwood, a sophomore and an undergraduate SA senator representing the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, said being the first of her family to attend college was both “momentous” and stressful because she had no “point of reference” for navigating campus or her courses. If elected, she hopes to create a website dedicated to first-generation students, where incoming students can access tips and testimonials from their peers, she said.
“I want to ensure that there are more personal stories on there and, if the students are willing and they want to have their story out there, I want to have a more student-centered perspective on the website,” she said.
Underwood’s platform also proposes a retreat for students of color that would take place over the days before new student orientation in August. The retreat would include workshops for students to navigate food insecurity and get to know one another before officially starting class.
As a former Colonial Inauguration leader, Underwood said students often feel overwhelmed with orientation and do not have enough time to meet people from similar backgrounds.
“As a student of color, as a black woman on this campus, something that I am extremely passionate about is making sure that students who come from diverse communities can be better connected,” Underwood said.
In her platform, Underwood also outlined plans to add more multicultural and affordable vendors to GWorld to help combat food insecurity – a problem she has also faced during her time at GW.
When Underwood arrived on campus last year, she said she thought the $2,300 she was allocated in GWorld funds would last through December, but she ran out about a month before the semester ended. She said she realized that staying on budget was more difficult than anticipated, especially because she lived on the Mount Vernon Campus and did not have as many nearby dining vendors as students living on the Foggy Bottom Campus.
She said she would often turn to The Store, the University’s student-led food pantry, for meals if she was running low on cash. If elected, Underwood said she would also push for a similar pantry on the Vern.
“That’s a big issue on this campus, and that’s something I am personally very passionate about because students shouldn’t be hungry, students shouldn’t not have access to a basic thing that you need in order to survive,” she said.