Q&A with UCF presidential candidates Cait & Jarell
On Tuesday, candidates Brian Zagrocki & Alex Bennett and Cait Zona & Jarell Jones announced their candidacy for student body president (Zagrocki, Zona) and student body vice president (Bennett, Jones). The Central Florida Future caught up with the candidates to discuss their campaign plans.
CFF: Your campaign slogan is, "Unleash your legacy." What does that mean?
Zona: Coming in freshman year, I wasn't a Greek student and I joined the Office of Student Involvement through Volunteer UCF. I jumped into Senate my freshman year not knowing anything — not doing a mentorship program — and so, I felt like I wanted to make a legacy for myself; I just didn't know how. We want to make students know how they can unleash their legacy so providing them with opportunities, making sure they know what's out there so they can start their legacy for themselves. We both jumped in under the Cortez & Rachel administration and then Melissa & Jacob took me under their wing.
Jones: I'm a big advocate for getting everyone involved, I know there's a lot of kids who don't know how to get involved and they have a lot of great ideas and we want them to unleash that, unleash everything they have and put it into the UCF community.
CFF: How do you think students can "unleash their legacy"?
Zona: Solely knowing what's out there and getting involved. One platform point that we have shared is we've both been very integral in making the iPhone app that ASF [Activity & Service Fee] just put into their budget. We just allocated money from different departments to make an iPhone application, or an Android application.
Both myself and Jarell know a lot about this, and we're going to make sure that instead of the UCF app, we're going to have everything on there. So we want agencies to be on there, all have our KnightConnect sign ups on there, we want to have buses on there, we want to have different things that are going on, SGA resources, we want to make sure that we have forms on there just making sure students know because we're in an electronic era now.
CFF: What organizations have you been involved with on and off campus?
Zona: I'm a really big advocate for education overseas, so I've been to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, two different times for service trips and that's where my passion first started.
I went my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college just to go over and advocate for education in different countries so that brought me into Volunteer UCF.
My freshman fall semester, I was a committee member for youth and mentoring, and then in spring, I became a director for Volunteer UCF youth and mentoring. Sophomore, fall, I did join Greek life: I'm a member of Tri Delta, and junior year I became part of President's Leadership Council, so I've gotten to interact with different administrators. Before I joined Greek life, I was part of the Greek Hall of Ambassadors so when everything with Greek life happened, I was one of two students that were brought in as a non-Greek voice to try to get everything back where it needed to be and improve relations with administration and then I sat on activity and service fee strategic planning board and president pro tempore, now speaker of the senate, activity and service fee vice chair and university fee committee chair.
Jones: I've been involved in SGA for three years and I've also been involved in OSI as well. I've worked with Late Knights, I've worked with Homecoming and I've also worked with Knight Camp. I am also a part of the SDES advisory council where we work with leaders like Dr. [Maribeth] Ehasz and Dr. [Vivian] Ortiz and we advocate for things we as students want administration to improve on or add or just hear our opinions on. Also, I'm part of the 4EVER KNIGHTS student ambassador program, so I work with alumni and provide various services to students through the Alumni Association ... I am a brother of Sigma Pi fraternity.
CFF: You guys both have experience with SGA. How do you think that would inform your leadership?
Zona: I think the president should be very well rounded, so I know a lot of times people will think they just come from Greek life or just come from SGA. I was not a Greek student my freshman year. I wanted to try Office of Student Involvement first.
I've always been really into philanthropy so I wanted to join Volunteer UCF and give back to the community first. From there I joined different committees within SGA.
I think right now SGA is seeing a lot of improvements. We're getting a lot of things done on the local and state level. Two weekends ago, I was just in Tallahassee and we met with Gov. [Rick] Scott's aids [and] Sen. [David] Simmons. The Board of Governors just gave us the green light in downtown and I was actually at that meeting with President Bayes and Vice President Altfield, and we got to see that green light, so I've been behind the scenes as Speaker of the Senate, seeing things that are happening, and I think it's really important that someone [who] knows about those type of things will be able to implement them.
Alex Wexelman is a Senior Staff Writer for the Central Florida Future. Email him at email@example.com.