During the spring break of 2017, Lauren Novsak and Noah Connor joined their peers on a trip with Mission: I’m Home, and it was there that these rising community leaders clicked—while drywalling a bathroom.
“You’ll learn a lot about a person once you’ve spent a week with them in a space that small,” said Novsak, with a laugh. The incumbent president of Stevenson’s Student Government Association, along with the vice president, Connor, aim to bring student-led initiatives to the foreground of campus life, while overall enhancing the community’s experience—students, faculty, staff, and alumni alike.
Novsak and Connor initially met in the fall of 2016, but truly got close after the mission trip to Baton Rouge.
“Every night we had great conversations about student leadership, student government, and our goals for the future. As we came back to Stevenson, our paths started crossing more with the work we were doing, so it was the obvious match,” Novsak said. “We were so in tune with each other’s leadership styles…I couldn’t imagine anyone else I would’ve wanted to have as a running mate.”
Connor, who is currently a senior residential assistant, has actively spent the past few years trying to offer more outlets for first-year students to have their voices heard. As the current chair of the Senate’s student services committee, he has led initiatives to bring the concerns of students to the forefront. His future appointment as vice president of the SGA, combined with his positions as the president of M.I.L.E and as a senior residential assistant, will put him in a unique position to address student concerns.
Novsak, on the other hand, currently serves as the Director of Public Relations and Alumni Outreach for the SGA. She is also the current president of Mission: I’m Home. Novsak’s roles this year have exposed her to internal and external communities, giving her the ability to see multiple facets of the Stevenson experience. Every aspect of the community has different opinions to share, and Novsak has made it a goal to navigate through that to provide the best experience possible to everyone involved.
As their individual goals became more defined, Novsak and Connor began to use their positions jointly, helping expand the methods of communication provided to the student body. However, communication isn’t the only way they plan on reaching their goals.
“We have to lead from the front and embody the changes the community wants to see,” Connor said.
At any event, one can expect to see members of the SGA in attendance, including Novsak and Connor. This, combined with other events such as town halls, puts the SGA representatives in the midst of the people they serve, allowing collaboration between all facets of student life.
As it is with a democratic system, though, both recognize that they cannot satisfy everyone’s needs. When asked about how they’d address that as a team, the pair stayed committed to their need to serve.
“At the end of the day, we are passionate and are dedicated to the Stevenson community,” says Novsak. “We’re focused on how to move beyond…to fulfill our roles to the best of our ability,” added Connor. “There will be a lot of concerns to address, but they can be overcome through collaboration.”
In the midst of their campaign, an apparent hack of text messages purported to be sent by Connor surfaced and sparked questioning about the candidates. In regard to the incident, The Villager received the following response from Novsak:
“Noah and I are deeply saddened and concerned that members of the Stevenson community feel the need to create slanderous and false material to influence the SGA Presidential and Vice Presidential elections. Noah and I pride ourselves on our commitment and years of service to this institution. Personally, I am devastated that a member or members of this community would blatantly disregard the core values of this university to launch personal attacks on my running mate whom I consider a trusted friend.”
In a 14-page report detailing the perpetrator’s falsification of source material, indications are that the emails allegedly sent from Connor were fabricated through a variety of design platforms.
Novsak continued, “For more information regarding this incident, I encourage you to visit Lauren & Noah on Facebook for a full statement and supporting documents. Keep in mind, this is an ongoing investigation.”
Both Novsak and Connor encourage dialogue between the SGA and members of the campus community to overall improve the Stevenson experience.
Thinking about where Stevenson will be upon their graduation, Novsak and Connor both became reflective.
“Five years from now, nobody will probably remember my name…but the remnants of the work I’ve done will be here,” Novsak said thoughtfully. “I know this is a different university from when I started, and I know that in a year, it will be a different university yet again…and I’m okay with that.”
“I know that the work we’re doing now and will be doing next year might not be for us. But it might make that incoming freshman’s experience better,” Connor said.
“Exactly!” Lauren added. “You’re doing all of this work, and you know that you’ll probably never see the payoff, but that’s what makes it fun. A student, who may not even be here yet, is going to take the root of your ideas and make it better. That’s what’s awesome about student leadership…there’s always someone coming behind you making it even better.”
It’s never too late to get involved; for those who share the same passion for service, the SGA has opened special elections for positions in next year’s cabinet. Anyone is encouraged to apply. Physical applications are currently available at The Rock, and online instructions can be downloaded via the SGA website or Facebook page.
Co-Editor-in-Chief Alyssa Dahle contributed to this article.