Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer announced Tuesday that she has appointed Valerie Hanna, a political science sophomore, as the new student regent.
If approved by the state Senate, Hanna would begin her term on the Arizona Board of Regents on July 1. She would serve her first year as a non-voting member and her second year as a voting member of the board. Hanna is set to take the place of current student regent Tyler Bowyer, who will complete his two-year term on June 30.
What made you decide to be a student regent?
Hanna: The position really caught my eye about a year ago when I attended my first Arizona Board of Regents meeting. I remember sitting in the room while they were discussing these big ideas and just kind of knowing right then and there that I wanted to be a part of it. They were discussing things that affected me and my peers; they make such important decisions that affect students, so I knew in whatever capacity I could, that I wanted to be involved with ABOR.
What was your reaction when you found out you were appointed?
I think I’m still in disbelief. I’m just incredibly humbled and honored to be selected and ready to get started.
I think I have a big job to do; I don’t take the responsibility lightly of representing over 130,000 students in the state of Arizona. I’m committed to doing the best job I can to represent students.
I’ve been so blessed with an incredibly supportive family who I love so dearly, and I’ve been blessed to have worked with so many students this year who have been my driving force. I don’t intend to let them down.
Is there a unique perspective you think you’ll bring to the board?
I think it would probably be the fact that I have been representing students for as long as I can remember. I think the main roles as [ASUA] senator has prepared me well, and another factor I bring to the table is being an undergraduate student.
What are two things you want to work on as a student regent?
Definitely freshman retention. I was incredibly grateful my freshman year to feel immediately at home at the U of A and I’m incredibly grateful for the education that the Arizona public university system has provided me with, but throughout my freshman year and my time at the U of A I’ve interacted with several students who, unfortunately, don’t feel the same, students who are homesick or are struggling in school.
I think once we get students to choose an Arizona university, we need to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to keep them there and equip them with the tools to succeed.
The second thing I would love to work on, as student regent, is really just engaging students in what goes on, on the board. I want to serve the students well and I believe the best way for me to do that is to hear from them.
I have a few different ideas I’d love to initiate and just make sure I’m actively seeking the student voice and that I’m not a regent that’s behind closed doors and who no one really knows. I’m really excited just to get students involved.
How do you plan on incorporating the input of students in your decisions?
I was just talking today with [current student regent] Kaitlin Thompson and she was excited about an idea that I had for us to start a Facebook page together that basically is just for the Arizona student regents.
We would post, whether it’s articles on higher education, whether it’s things that are going to be brought to the board or asking students how they feel about on certain issues … just bringing visibility and trying to advertise that we’re always there for students.
I would love to have that be my number one goal for the year: Being available to students.