Who Will Lead? Inside Look at Candidates Running For Student Office

The voice of the students hangs in the balance as seven people officially make their bid for positions within student government at COD.


Nick Karmia, Staff Writer

Seven people are running for officer positions within Student Leadership Council with four of them also running for the position of Student Trustee. Voting opens from March 15-16, where all currently enrolled COD students can vote online through ChapLife to decide who will best be a catalyst for the voice of the students. 

Candidates Running For Student Trustee and Officer of SLC 

Trustee Candidate Angel Hernandez 

When Hernandez started doing volunteer work in high school, she started falling in love with community service. 

“I really do appreciate spending time with people and listening and caring about their unique beliefs and values,” Hernandez said. “That’s very important for me to have in my life.” 

I think the consequence of respect is very beautiful as well,” Hernandez said. “It can be so impactful that people can change their mindset and have a new perspective on life.” 

When it comes to issues faced by students, Hernandez has seen college students with a busy schedule they don’t know how to handle. 

“I think a lot of the issues that I had regarding community college was balancing my work life, my social life, my grades, and attending clubs,” Hernandez said. “I’d like to speak up regarding what are some possible solutions to future and present students.” 

Through volunteering, Hernandez has worked closely with kids who have special needs. This kind of commitment she thinks separates her from the rest of the candidates. 

Trustee Candidate Carlos Munoz 

Munoz believes the strength behind his communication skills qualify him for positions in student government. 

“One of the things I am good at is my communication skills,” Munoz said. “You cannot be a leader if you cannot reach out to people. I’m an inclusive person, so I bring everybody to the table.” 

For Munoz, responsibilities of these positions connect back to advocacy for all of COD. 

“Advocate for the students, for that success of the students, but also at the same time to advocate for the better of the institution,” Munoz said. 

 Increasing engagement at COD is something Munoz would focus on in office. 

“I have seen in person that the students are not completely engaged and I can see why,” Munoz said. “[Students] don’t know the resources or the possibilities that they can do or [what] they can achieve here at COD.” 

Improving this would require better marketing capabilities behind these opportunities. 

“I would say mainly to focus on those new students who are coming to the institution because those are the main ones who don’t know anything,” Munoz said. “If we give them the right information, I know for sure that we’re going to [see] an improvement.” 

Munoz believes his past experiences working with students and faculty will allow him to be a successful leader.

“I know it sounds quirky, but I would say everything is possible,” Munoz said. “When I got to college, my first thought was this is going to be hard. This is going to be kind of impossible. Just keep pushing.” 

Trustee Candidate Rai 

“Everywhere I go I’m looking to see how can I show up and contribute,” Rai said. “I think leadership is something that all of us have, that we can tap into.” 

Now in her second semester, Rai plans to focus on the elements of student wellness, diversity, equity, and inclusion and campus engagement. 

“For a student to be successful they have to feel a sense of belonging,” Rai said. “This is a place that you come in, and if you really make the most of the opportunities you have here, you’re gonna be able to contribute so much to whatever community you join.” 

Rai blends two principles which serve at the core of her leadership style. 

“You have to have this really keen understanding of when you sit back and observe, and when you act,” Rai said. “When you do act, how do you act in a way that’s going to be effective and is going to bring the most benefits for your constituency.” 

Whether or not Rai takes office, she’ll still show up every day to make an impact. 

“If there’s an opportunity for me to have a seat at the table, in a way that I can serve as a bridge or vessel for other people to uplift the entire community, I’m gonna take that opportunity,” Rai said. 

Trustee Candidate Asma Yawari 

Yawari believes her prior experience qualifies her to take on these roles in student government. 

“Speaking out, public speaking, and advocacy work is nothing new to me,” Yawari said. “When I want something done, I will get it done.” 

The student trustee position does not come short of any important obligations to the students of COD. 

“The student trustee position is a very powerful position because it comes with great responsibility,” Yawari said. “You’re taking what you’re hearing and taking It to the upper board. You have that direct connection.” 

One of the biggest issues Yawari see’s is a lack of food options in the later hours of the day at COD. 

“A lot of the clubs and other classes take place after 3:00 PM, so it’s really hard for students to have access to food if they’re staying in school,” Yawari said. 

Her advocacy work for RefugeeOne and creating a children’s book to help spread parts of her own culture are some projects that define her motivation for service. 

“The reason that I mentioned this and why I’m so proud of it is because this ties back to my culture,” Yawari said. “COD is very diverse. I like to use the term salad bowl. COD is just made up of so many different ‘ingredients.’ Different races, cultures and international students.” 

There’s a sense of pure enjoyment Yawari gets out of her acts of service. 

“The only thing I expect in return is people feeling happy and included, and that’s enough for me,” Yawari said. “We’re all one together.” 

Candidates Running for Officer of SLC 

Candidate Ty Giordano 

Giordano’s growth as a leader happened very suddenly at COD, as throughout high school he didn’t really feel the need to get involved. 

“I didn’t really do anything more than what was expected of me,” Giordano said. “When I came to COD I really tried to hit the ground running.” 

Growing his own leadership capabilities and actually accomplishing things while in office are key to Giordano’s leadership. 

“As a leader, one of the most important things you have to do is to get out of your own head and listen,” Giordano said. “You’re a leader of people. You’re not just an individual.”  

Student awareness about what exactly SLC does and how students can participate in the organization is an issue Giordano would like to focus on. 

“Making sure that people know who their student reps and student officers are, because I think right now we expect people to come to the meetings,” Giordano said. “For students to know when there’s someone in the Student Leadership Office to be able to come in and talk to them.”  

I want to be available for anyone who has an issue, no matter how big or small they might think it is,” Giordano said. “It may not just be affecting you, but it could be affecting anyone. [I want to be] open to any issues at any time.” 

Candidate Zohaib Quadri 

The drive to improve himself is what Quadri says led him to take on membership in clubs and organizations such as SLC. 

I want to be able to acquire new skills, hone my current ones and keep learning new things,” Quadri said.  

Quadri finds that the top responsibility his office holds is SLC’s overseeing of the student body’s well-being. If elected, one of the biggest issues Quadri would like to address during his term is what he believes is a problematic transportation system at COD. 

“There are students coming from all over. It takes them a long time to get over here,” Quadri said. “COD could consider a partnership with the Pace bus. They’re already responsible for local transportation, so there could be a partnership where they transport students to the main campus here as well as other campuses.” 

The biggest strengths Quadri believes defines his style of leadership is his compassion, strategic mindset and dedication towards learning. 

“I have a tactical mind where I am good at strategizing and coming up with plans on how to tackle certain problems or issues,” he said. “I am empathetic where I’m able to understand the problems of people and try to connect with them.” 

The campaign message Quadri wants to send to voters is that he will choose to highlight a path towards action against problems. 

“I would want people to vote for me based on the actions I show to them, and not just on the words that I speak out,” Quadri said. “I would want people to see me as a candidate who works on his actions, and not just on their words.” 

Candidate Ayesha Shafiuddin 

“Getting involved with COD has allowed me to see a greater perspective on life Itself,” Shafiuddin said. “I was at some point where I would only go to class and go straight back. I felt very disconnected to the community.” 

Shafiuddin started attending SLC meetings, was voted in as a student representative, then successfully took office as student trustee in the most recent election cycle. 

“I think I’ve blossomed in that role of being a leader, because I’ve recognized that leadership starts at the very beginning,” Shafiuddin said. “To me, leadership means quite a lot, and it’s changed my entire outlook on life.” 

Being a service to the students is what Shafiuddin thinks is the most important responsibility these offices hold. 

“I think that engagement and understanding your constituency is incredibly important, as I’ve learned while being student trustee,” Shafiuddin said. “That means at the grassroots level, when you’re talking to students on campus. It can also mean through online surveys. It can mean many different avenues.”

One big issue Shafiuddin sees for students at COD are the costly textbook purchases. Through voicing this concern on college-wide committees, she would advise an expansion of open education resources to alleviate those costs. 

“That’s basically an initiative that we’ve been working on at College of DuPage, to expand free textbooks to students,” Shafiuddin said. “I’ve heard strong support of this initiative and a lot of students sharing their stories of how it impacted them personally.” 

When it comes to leadership style Shafiuddin would describe herself as strategic, empathetic and compassionate. 

“I definitely think that my wisdom here is probably something that will set me aside from every candidate,” Shamfiuddin said. “Also the unique experiences I’ve shared as student trustee. All I wish to do is actually share them with the students around, so that they can rise to the next level.”