Alumnus makes jump from UCF Senate to Fla. Senate
You might have recognized a few names on this year's midterm election ballot. However, one UCF alumnus has been making a name for himself in the political spectrum for decades.
Making the jump from the UCF Student Government Association Senate floor to that of the Florida Senate is no easy feat. But one former Knight, Lee Constantine, has managed to make it.
Constantine, who now serves as a Seminole County commissioner, formerly held positions in the Florida Senate from 2000 to 2010, as well as in the Florida House of Representatives from 1992 to 2000.
The UCF grad was heavily involved in UCF's SGA Senate during his freshman and sophomore years, rising through the ranks to serve as student body president and vice president his senior and junior years, respectively.
"My experience in the Student Government Senate made me realize that public service was an extremely important role," Constantine said.
After graduating from UCF in 1974, when the school went by the original name Florida Technological University, Constantine went on to bigger things. At the age of 25, he ran for a City Commission seat in Altamonte Springs and won — and that, Constantine said, is what started his political career.
The alumnus became mayor of Altamonte Springs after serving on City Commission, and then ran on the Florida House of Representatives before becoming a Florida State Senator.
Sitting on his alma mater's student government might have given him the experience he needed to grow, but he said there is a difference between serving for your school and serving for the state.
"Being a state senator, my constituency was a half a million people, but the experience of writing legislation and getting an idea through a legislative body, I mean the principle is the same, but I mean the scale is quite different," he said.
Now a commissioner for Seminole County, Constantine learned many decision-making skills while in SGA.
"There was always things coming up that were extremely important to the lives of the students whether it was tuition, beer on campus … you get to make decisions that don't affect you as a person , but the people you're representing," he said.
Like Commissioner Constantine, international and global studies major Sara Gomez marks serving on UCF's Senate as a big part of her college career. Currently the president pro tempore, she joined Senate in 2013 to expand her involvement.
"I was involved in the Honors program, and I wanted to expand at the university level. SGA was a good place to give back to the students in the UCF community," Gomez said.
As pro tempore, Gomez does a lot of internal work, which includes sitting on activity and service budget committees. However, unlike Constantine, she does not intend on being a senator one day.
"I don't want to be a politician, but I do want to work in public service, which is a lot of communication," she said.
Spencer Evans, a legal studies major, who is on the pre-law track, is interested in being a senator.
Evans is involved in Greek life and is working to get onto the Student Conduct Board, and plans on making a difference in this country one day.
"Well, I think the older generations have lost sight of the actual point of government. I want to be a senator so I can be involved in changing that," Evans said.
After Evans attends law school, he says he will work his way into politics like Constantine did to change this country.
"Well [Constantine] went about it in a more legislative way, and I intend to go more the judicial route…" Evans said. "The original point of the United States government was to be governing body over the sovereign states, not to hold our hand throughout our lives. So I'd like to be involved in changing that mindset and turning this country around."