Mississippi University for Women’s Student Government Association President Luis Leal Jr. said he is prepared to serve as a strong advocate for the Owls’ student body.
“SGA president is the bridge between the administration and students,” he said. “My duties are to have open communication channels between both parties. I, however, am always going to push for what is best for students in any way possible.”
Sworn-in as president in May, Leal will preside over SGA meetings while serving as the voice for the 2,800 students attending the “W” during the 2021-22 school year.
“I am not the first male president, but as the campus continues to grow I hope more people are interested in the position regardless of gender,” he said. “It feels pretty good to be president — there is a lot of responsibility. I’m a little anxious, but very excited to get to know the students a little bit better and kind of help them out throughout this time during the year.”
A senior studying marketing, Leal, 21, who was raised on the Gulf Coast in Ocean Springs, loves to skate, write a journal, play chess, hang out with friends and play tennis as a member of the Owls’ tennis team.
Leal said though there are elections to choose the best candidate to serve as president, if there are not two or more candidates who come forward to run for office, then the presiding SGA president, who was Lydia Holland during the last school year, works with the SGA Executive Board to choose who can best serve the student body which is how Leal was selected to serve.
Leal said he wants SGA to work with the administration to solve any problems on campus as well as make the organization more “approachable” to students.
“I’m here to listen to what the students have to say and get back to the administration to see if we can make any changes to help them out and see what we can do about problems that are happening on our campus,” said Leal, who served as SGA’s media and graphics coordinator last semester. “I plan on making SGA more approachable during my term. I want students to feel comfortable coming up to any SGA members — simply by being casual when we can on campus while still being professional when need be.”
Leal said the student government’s main priority this year is working with the administration to ensure that in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the campus is as safe as possible.
“A big priority for me is trying to ensure that we can be as safe as possible, but also still have some very fun events throughout the weeks,” he said. “I want to make sure that we still have fun but we are safe at the same time.”
Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Jessica Harpole said Leal will do a good job serving the student body.
“Luis has shown great enthusiasm for the job, and he has assembled a talented executive team to help fulfill his vision,” she said. “He is invested in the student experience and committed to articulating the needs of our student body. I believe his connection to a variety of student constituencies will broaden the impact of the student government association this year.”
An aesthetically pleasing university, Leal says the trees are one of the best reasons he likes attending the W.
“This campus has a lot of history behind it and you can tell these trees have been around and kept up with for future generations,” said Leal, a resident of historic Columbus Hall. “If you walk around and just look at the placement and types of trees around, it’s proof that the alumni care about the future students that will arrive in due time.”
After graduation, Leal plans on joining the Peace Corps.
“Many senior students go straight into the workforce, find internships, or continue going for their masters, but personally I want to explore the world and other countries before I devote myself to a company,” he said.
Leal said perhaps there is a future in politics for him.
“I like politics — it gets pretty hectic and frustrating sometimes, but I could see myself working in politics,” he said. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see — I still have a long time to live.”