A few years ago, Ana Morales ’14 came across a team of little boys in her Lawrence, Mass., neighborhood who were selling lemonade. Every day, after the lemonade stand closed, the leader of the group would count the cash and order pizza for his crew. He could show her all the equations he had devised to figure out supply and demand for both the lemonade and the pizza.
In the coming days, she tracked down school programs that would help that little boy develop his math skills through education. “I try to get my kids out of the street before the drug dealers do,” she says. It was just another part of her role as a community organizer, a little something she does in her time away from college.
In high school Morales was a youth coordinator for the Obama campaign. She also helped to run the campaign of the vice chair of the Lawrence School Committee, developed outreach opportunities for students, and worked with the Greater Lawrence Young Professionals Network to create action plans for her city, to assist college graduates create résumés, and to help high-schoolers apply — and stick with — college. She also has interned with John Kerry’s senate office.
So when someone asked Morales, a double major in political science and Spanish, about her lack of student senate experience during the debates that would help determine the next president of the Denison Campus Governance Association (DCGA), she said she didn’t necessarily need it. She had been working in her own home community every chance she got to try and make it better. It just makes sense that she would want to do that in her Denison community, too.
Even so, not having that experience made Morales’ run for the presidency a little non-traditional. So did the fact that she had a 50-member campaign team made up of folks from groups around campus — including Greek life, the Black Student Union, and her fellow Posse members — supporting her candidacy.
The strategy worked.
Morales will take office with Hung Tran ’15, who was elected as vice president. Tran, a communication and computer science double major from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, made his way to the VP’s office through the student senate, where he sat on three of the four DCGA committees, which include Policy, Rules, Public Relations, and Finance. For Tran, the decision to run came with the seed of an idea planted his first semester on campus when he became friends with Charlie Severson ’14 a senate member who was elected as vice president in 2011.
Tran hopes to take the VP position, which traditionally focuses on residential education, in additional directions that include helping to oversee the committee chairs and their committee work, to explore the ways in which DCGA funds student groups and activities, and to help encourage school spirit and pride. “For years, DCGA has tried to find ways to boost the [Denison] spirit, without finding where it is,” says Tran, who hopes to survey students, faculty, staff, and alumni in order to identify Denisonians’ common ground in what he calls a “soul-search” for the community.
“School spirit goes hand-in-hand with pride, which translates into ownership,” Tran wrote in his platform statement. And that ownership, he says, will be key in solving issues that arise on campus.
The pair have big plans and big dreams, and the entire summer to refine them. They’ll take office at the beginning of the fall semester in August — the same time that newly appointed University President Adam Weinberg will welcome back returning students and induct incoming members of Denison’s Class of 2017.