Q&A: Student trustee’s last thoughts as term nears expiration


Student Trustee Gloria Roark held her position through one of COD’s most hectic years. Her opinions were voiced on the dismissal of former President Robert Breuder, her say used to add a student to the presidential search committee and her patience tested through a series of board boycotts. Now, SLC elections have taken place and Luzelena Escamilla is all set to take over. Roark sat down with the Courier one last time to reflect on her term and hopes for the future.

 Courier: Was your position on the board of trustees what you expected it to be?

Gloria Roark: That’s a really tough question to answer. I guess I expected my term to be hectic, but not as hectic as it was. I had countless meetings to attend, probably more than any other student trustee, I was sitting on a completely divided board and I had no real “mentor” on the board for the majority of my tenure, which was incredibly frustrating.

C: What were the best and worst parts of the job? 

GR: T​he best part was the learning experience. I had no idea what it takes to keep a college functioning and I now realize that it takes a lot of work and dedication from many constituencies. At times, though, I did have to question the intentions of some of the trustees, which was probably the worst part for me. I don’t like to work alongside people who have bad intentions. ​

C: How do you think holding the position will help you going forw​​ard? ​

GR: I have definitely learned to work on a team that does not have the same goals in mind, which was a great learning experience even though it was frustrating. I’ve also matured a lot and I feel like I can now pull off being professional even though I have a very laid back personality. And that might sound ridiculous, but being able to act in a professional way is something that I have come to appreciate. I mean, realistically, I am going to move forward and people will ask me what I have done in college and they will be impressed by the “student trustee” title, and that may get me places alone. But the title doesn’t mean anything to me to be quite honest. All that I have learned means much, much more to me.

C: What are your plans after this semester? 

GR: As crazy as it may seem, I won’t be completing my Bachelors. Instead, I plan to go to vet tech school at Fox College for the next 18 months and receive my degree to become a certified tech. I have and always will find myself drawn to health care, and I have found my passion in health care by working with animals. After I complete tech school I will eventually complete my Bachelors, but right now I am trying to live my life according to what I believe will make me happiest. I am very excited for what the future holds!

C: Do you have any regrets when you look back at your year on the board?

GR: I wish I would have spoken up more; I guess sitting in silent frustration wasn’t my best plan of action. I also regret not updating the board more frequently about what students have been doing on campus; the ideas were there, but the actions weren’t which will probably always frustrate me.

C: Are you excited to see [Escamilla] take your place? What advice would you give her seeing how this semester ended.

GR: I am! I have told her about all of my ideas that I never got to carry out and she has her own ideas, and I’m hoping with all of that she will be better and do better than I did. The only advice I have for her is to never be afraid to speak up and voice your opinion. It is so incredibly important to let the board know that you understand what is happening and you have opinions on it. Although your “vote” doesn’t count, your voice certainly does.

C: Do you feel, now that there is quorum, the board will have less obstacles moving forward?

GR: Well, given that they will be selecting the next president and some board members have made it clear that they would like to bring back the former leadership, no. I think the selection process will take longer than it needs to because of the split in opinions. However, I do think at the end of it all, the person selected will be the best fit for the college. The presidential search committee alone has done a lot of work, and I am certain that they have narrowed the choices down to the best of the best.

C: Do you think once there is a new president officially appointed the board will be able to focus more energy on school issues rather than personal ones? 

GR:  I certainly hope so. But, then again, if certain people don’t get their way then it might revert back to personal issues. Who knows.

C: You spent a lot of your time as trustee working on student issues like MAP grants and textbook prices. How do you feel your efforts were received? What can students do to further your work? 

GR: I have spoken with [Escamilla] and Kiley [Pooler] about my ideas and I am hoping they take those ideas and run with them. They are both very passionate about helping students, and I believe that they will both continue taking steps in the right direction. So as far as my efforts, I think they were received well by those two who I have spoken to about the things that I have started. For students to further all of the work that SLC has started, they would have to get behind SLC and show COD and the state of Illinois that the decisions made at the upper levels of administration and government directly affect the students. I don’t think there is a reality check for administration and government quite like students speaking up about what matters to them.

C: Is there anything else you’d like students to know?

GR: I would just like to thank everyone for supporting me throughout my tenure. I truly could not have done it if it weren’t for people encouraging me throughout the year. I would also like to personally thank the Courier for allowing me to have monthly columns; I hope this tradition continues.