Katie Belgard hadn’t planned on being the president of the Board of Student Organizations when she first joined.
She’s one of those students everyone seems to know. Spending a lot of time in the Woodbury Campus Center, she can often be found calling to and greeting passersby with a smile. A women and gender studies major and media studies minor and active student in the campus community, Belgard is all for meeting new people.
When she nominated herself for president of the BSO, she hadn’t expected to be elected by her peers.
Prior to her election, Belgard was a representative for one of the many student groups on campus and thus a frequent face at the BSO meetings, but nominated herself on a whim. To her surprise, others thought she was the right person for the job. So, with no prior experience, and no real idea what she was getting into, she took the position.
Belgard is now in charge of the funding for more than 60 student groups on campus. The parliamentary process that the board uses enables the most unbiased decisions to be made on proposals for fund for trips, projects or anything else a student group might need. Belgard herself doesn’t vote on the proposals, but she is in charge of overseeing all meetings, making sure they run smoothly and ensuring that all university policies are followed
“The learning curve is pretty steep, but it’s been exciting,” Belgard said about her experience so far. With the changes that came with rebuilding the student executive board—her vice president had stepped down, prompting the promotion of her treasurer to vice president and the need for an election of a new treasurer —she’s had to learn quickly, but she’s enjoying every minute of it. “You learn in the moment,” she said.
It’s clear that Belgard enjoys her job, no matter how challenging it might be. “I’m not a detail person, to be honest,” she said about the demands of the job. “I’m more of a broad, visionary person –– where you start here, and you’ll eventually end up there, but the details don’t matter. There’s a lot of walking people through things.” And it turns out that those details are an important part of being president. Belgard gets countless emails a day from student organizations with questions and requests to schedule meetings with her. She admitted that it was a lot more than she expected and has been quite adjustment, but that challenge has only proven to be a learning experience.
“I want to be able to help students find their potential,” she said when asked what her mission is now that she’s been in the position of president for a full semester. “I work closely with student groups to get the most out of their USM experience, and I think getting involved in a student group really helps you create a sense of self.” She’s also learned a bit about her own abilities. “I surprise myself. It’s challenging, but I get surprised when things come together. I’m like ‘Oh, I did this on my own, what?’ I don’t think I realize I have the potential to do something like that.”
Belgard doesn’t seem to think she’ll be looking for re-election once her term as president is over at the end of this semester. “It’s a 12 hour commitment a week, but I do so much more,” she said, proving that it is very much a job. But she’s more than okay with that. “It’s definitely been a good experience overall.”