By Tyler Lee

After two years of inspired leadership under recent graduate Zeb Whiteside, Montreat College’s Student Government Association (SGA) has a motivated new president, one who has taken initiative on countless projects already this year. I recently interviewed senior business major Connor Townsend, who is now halfway through her first year as president, about SGA, leadership, and her journey to Montreat.

Tyler Lee: For those who may not know, can you tell me a little bit about what SGA does?

Connor Townsend: SGA strives to be a place for students to express concerns and ideas and ultimately help make Montreat a better place with our leadership.

Lee: I admired SGA’s recent efforts to help firefighters in the area who have been fighting the local wildfires. How did that start, and how did it go?

Townsend: Collecting donations started simply as an idea that I sent out in a group message to see what members thought about helping out. Everyone was excited about the idea and with help from Dr. Daniel Bennett, Dr. David Taylor, Sarah Roddy, and Joey Stewart, we were able to get everything organized and ready to go. After a quick email, we quickly got a lot of donations. We ended up with a large amount of items thanks to the generosity of everyone at Montreat.

Lee: When did you first join SGA? What was that experience like?

Townsend: I joined SGA my sophomore year as an off-campus representative. I was definitely shocked by all of the things that SGA is involved in and in charge of. It has been a pleasure to be a part of SGA for three years and watch the transitions and completions of goals we had set.

Lee: What did you do as a representative? How did you interact/help commuter students?

Townsend: As a representative I voiced the issues and concerns of commuter students as a whole. I also helped with the various committees and events in SGA.

Lee: What made you want to be SGA President?

Townsend: I definitely felt called to help carry on a tradition of SGA being such a strong positive force at Montreat. I love Montreat and felt that this could be my way of giving back to a place that has given me so much. My main goal as president is to be the best servant leader that I can be.

Lee: Why is the work SGA does important to the student body? How do they communicate with and help students?

Townsend: As we go to classes, hang out at events, and live around one another in dorms, the issues and concerns others express are heard by our members. Each Friday we discuss these problems and work towards fixing them. Sometimes this fix is simply providing information, doing a little research, or creating a proposal to hopefully get the problem solved. We also create a bridge between students and the college’s leadership. These fixes are crucial because otherwise the issue may not be brought to the attention of those that are able to fix it.

Lee: What are you proud of that SGA did last year?

Townsend: Last year was unique in that we spent a vast amount of time on several proposals but also pulled off one of the best “Week of Encouragement” events I’ve ever seen, as well as the first bonfire with a waterslide!

Lee: What’s it like working with the other SGA members? How would you say so many different parts of a single unit function together?

Townsend: Working with other SGA members is very unique! We have a great group that is full of ideas, so the contrast between being a little goofy while enjoying the company of one another and also the serious side of really buckling down and finishing tasks becomes what I would consider a great work atmosphere. We definitely are learning to work together more efficiently by finding effective ways to communicate between meetings.

Lee: What is one project that you can say for sure SGA is going to be completing by the end of the semester?

Townsend: We will be having a Christmas event involving hot chocolate & toppings, a gingerbread house building contest, and door prizes. Next semester events will definitely include our second “Week of Encouragement” and a bonfire!

Lee: Thanks for all that information. Let’s shift gears a bit. How did you end up at Montreat?

Townsend: I ended up at Montreat after looking for a college that felt like home. I visited and fell in love with the campus and the people of the Montreat community. On top of all of that, I was given the opportunity to be close to home and play softball, both of which I was extremely grateful for.

Lee: Tell me about your college experience?

Townsend: My college experience has definitely been better than I could have ever imagined. My classes and professors have made learning so practical that it has been a pleasure to go to my classes. My favorite part about my time here is all of the relationships I’ve made. Montreat has truly changed my life.

Lee: What are your plans for post-graduation?

Townsend: I plan on working in the field of sports management or going back to graduate school and being a graduate assistant for a softball program.

Lee: Do you have anything else that you would like to share?

Townsend: I would like to thank everyone here at Montreat for the opportunity to serve as your SGA president. I look forward to the upcoming semester and am so thankful to God for the blessings He has provided here at Montreat. It is truly a special place full of special people. Additionally, if anyone has any questions, concerns, or event ideas please feel free to contact me at townsendcl@montreat.edu.