JSU Elects First Hispanic SGA President
It was a dream that Ulises Herrera didn’t want to admit having, not even to himself.
Back when the senior marketing major from Cleveland, Ala. attended Freshman Convocation, he had a thought: “I’ll be SGA president one day.” But he quickly laughed it off, thinking it was “crazy at the time.” That was in 2016.
While attending new student orientation, Herrera’s GO! leader convinced him to visit the Freshman Forum table at the information fair. He was initially hesitant to get involved, fearing it would get in the way of his studies, but he soon joined and was eventually selected as a Freshman Forum mentor. He would go on to serve as a JSU Ambassador, Student Senator, and a delegate and state officer for Collegiate Legislature.
Last year, Herrera became the Student Government Association’s first vice president of public relations. That was when he started thinking that crazy dream he’d had as a freshman wasn’t so crazy after all.
“I started to think of the future,” he said. “I contemplated running for re-election as VPPR but I also started to think more and more about the presidency. It was not until I was exposed and served on many university committees that I knew I wanted to run for president. I loved, and always strived, to represent the students at these crucial committees."
In April, Herrera was elected SGA president for the 2019-2020 school year, succeeding Kasey Gamble. He is believed to be the first Hispanic SGA president in JSU history.
“Honesty, I shed a tear is disbelief,” Herrera said. “I do not think I have smiled more in my life. I could not believe that I was going to be the president of the SGA and represent everyone to the very best of my ability.”
Herrera has started working with the JSU administration to overcome numerous barriers within the Hispanic community.
“We are forming a Latinx Committee that is going to help recruit and retain more Latinx students, as well as identifying any issues,” he said.
Herrera’s work ethic comes from his parents. His dad is a foreman for a gas pipeline company, while his mom is a supervisor for a produce company in Birmingham. Herrera, whose campaign slogan was “United with Ulises,” is proud of becoming JSU’s first Hispanic SGA president, but it’s not necessarily how he wants to be known.
“I am proud to be Mexican, but I would much rather be known as Ulises Herrera,” he said. “I will always strive to advocate for unity all across our campus because nothing is better than caring for one another.”
It’s a lesson that the entire JSU community learned firsthand in the wake of the March 2018 tornado that tore across Jacksonville. It was a disaster that forced everyone to work together for the greater good.
“At the end of day, let your actions speak for yourself in showing the kind of person you are,” he said. “I am proud of my accomplishments and I will never forget where I came from. I hope in a way, big or small, I can inspire someone to step outside of their comfort zone.”
Herrera fully appreciates the weight of responsibility that he carries for the full student body of JSU.
“The role of SGA president is crucial in JSU’s inner workings,” he said. “If there is ever anything that will affect the student body – positive or negative – the administration never holds back to contact me about it. The SGA president really is the advocate for the student body. No matter the issue, I always make sure it is the best for the students. The role is crucial because without the students JSU would not be the great place it is.”
With the support of the JSU administration and the four vice presidents that make up the SGA executive council, Herrera intends to keep the promises he made while campaigning for SGA president including bringing back a campus-wide sexual assault awareness campaign and having a town hall style forum that will allow students to address any and all issues with the entire SGA council.
“I will never stop working for the student body,” Herrera said. “There are always things to be done.”