When this year’s UNIFI President, Stef McGraw, asked me to be the next UNIFI President, I realized the enormity of the shoes I would have to fill. It won’t be easy to live up to her example. Her titles are too numerous to list, but I will try. She has been Director of Outreach for the UNI Freethinkers & Inquirers, Vice President, and President. As a Vice President of One Iowa, she worked hard during a campaign year to keep dogma out of politics. A long-time student government senator, she now serves as the Northern Iowa Student Government’s Speaker of the Senate. In her role in NISG, she has sought to serve the students; in UNIFI, an amazing community of freethinking individuals. As Speaker for NISG, she was a consistent voice of reason in our student government. And as President of UNIFI, she maintained it as a beacon of reason for this university. Thank you, Stef, for all your work. I hope that in a year’s time, I will have lived up to your example.
As I spent the last year outside of UNIFI, I sought to follow her example. I involved myself in earnest in student involvement outside of UNIFI. I pushed for changes in university policy to cut rules that penalized political organizations. I worked with the LGBT* center; and around that, formed a Progressive Coalition from seven student orgs. And when Stef asked me about the Presidency, I knew from her example that the choice for Vice President was clear. I am pleased to re-introduce the 2014-2015 UNIFI Vice President, Kate Heetland.
Kate joined the officer team as Director of Outreach in 2012. Even before then, she stood out as an involved member of the community, always ready to volunteer for an event. When she joined the officer team, she brought with her an unparalleled work ethic. That year she had a grueling schedule, and large time commitments to her work in the College of Music. Despite this, at officer meetings she put most of us to shame – her to-do list was always complete, and she volunteered herself for more.
It is not only her work ethic that will balance out our next year. When confronted with ambiguous tasks with no clear next step, she was no less dedicated. When Kate took on the problem of the gender gap in UNIFI, there was no obvious way forward, yet she invested herself totally in it. I admire her resolve try any idea proposed to tackle it. Stef, then UNIFI Vice President, and Kate demonstrated principled and dynamic leadership. Kate’s hard work as Director of Outreach informed their strategy and ensured progress. It was not just that she reached out to so many students, but that she took on their ideas and owned them in implementing new events. It was with verve that she took on the task, and with an open mind that she implemented each new idea. Her persistence, her will to take on new challenges and invest herself in their success makes her an obvious choice for Vice President.
As Vice President over the past year, she worked over the summer to ensure the success of fall term events. Even as she studied abroad, that work came to fruition with numerous new and involved members. Upon returning, she was undeterred by the record cold to put in countless hours for Darwin Week. And always, I’ve admired her ethos in her work bettering UNIFI in service and activism.
I look forward to working with Kate over the next year. Her example will inspire me to work harder, even if just to keep up, and I will rely on her advice and discipline. Finally, I am eager to see the submitted applications for next year’s officer team. The ideas I will read and hear from this year’s applicants will include those of members she personally had a hand in recruiting. It’s only fitting that she’ll be posting the officer applications tomorrow. I can’t wait.