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Meet the SGA election candidates

March 15, 2018

On March 18 through March 21, students will have the opportunity to choose which student leaders will comprise the Student Government Association’s next administration. Two candidates will be running for the position of president and two are set to run for vice president. With that in mind, here are the candidates for those positions:

Presidential Candidates: Drake Thibodaux and Grant Henry

A sophomore business management major from Chackbay, Drake Thibodaux has been a member of SGA
since the fall of his freshman year and currently sits as a college of arts and sciences senator. He served
as campus affairs chairman during the spring and fall of 2017.

Thibodaux said that he has served Nicholls through participating in university committees like the
student media and tech fee committees, moderating for the presidential search and overseeing the
creation of various motions.

“I’ve done a lot of motions, like the Peltier Garden motion, [and] I’ve done the eternal flame repair
project,” said Thibodaux. “[As] campus affairs chairman, I oversaw a lot of motions get done, which I
was very proud of, like benches for the rec [and] new water bottle stations for the rec.”

Thibodaux attributes his leadership abilities to his “lead-by- example” beliefs.

“As a leader, you do the absolute worst jobs imaginable and give the easier things to other people
because if you’re going to lead, you need to be willing to take those terrible situations and just make
them the best you possibly can,” said Thibodaux. “That’s what I feel like I love to do as a leader: try to
make things better, lead through example and be willing to make sacrifices.”

If he is elected SGA president, Thibodaux said that his plans begin with enhancing the Louisiana Council
of Student Body Presidents (COSBP), which he said is a key to keeping TOPS funded.

Thibodaux’s plans also include getting the student body more involved in politics. He said he would like
SGA’s public relations to advertise local political events. In addition, Thibodaux said he wants to push for
students to visit the Capitol during legislative special sessions.

“I want to use SGA’s money to rent out as many buses as we possibly can and get as many students from
Nicholls as we possibly can on those buses, and the next time that the legislature has a special session, I
want us to all go and just stand outside there and protest all day long, and just let them know we’re
mad,” said Thibodaux.

Thibodaux said he would also like to instate “organization senators” within SGA, with categories such as
NAACP senator and student media senator, to increase representation. Additionally, he said he wants to
continue to push SGA’s public relations efforts and push for student first-responders to receive
university-excused absences if they have to leave class to answer a call.

Grant Henry is a junior marketing major from Shreveport who currently sits as a Student Supreme Court
justice and disciplinary committee member for SGA. Additionally, he works as a student ambassador,
orientation team member and a host for the weekly Facebook show “This Week at Nicholls.”
Henry said that, through various roles like introducing students to Nicholls or hearing students’
grievances, he has been able to mix with different groups on campus.

“Serving in those multiple roles has just kind of allowed me to be flexible with people, and we’re like a
big melting pot here, so I’ve seen different cultures, I’ve seen different people, I’ve seen different races
of people just all kind of mesh together,” said Henry. “I’ve seen how I can kind of mix with different
groups.”

Henry said that, if he is elected president, he would like to bring a greater sense of diversity to Nicholls’
campus, with different organizations coming together on a daily basis.

“I notice that we do come together whenever there’s big events like homecoming [or] Crawfish Day,”
Henry said. “I want to encourage diversity on an everyday, daily basis. I want it to be to where an IFC
group can mix with another fraternity that they don’t normally mix with, or I want the Green Club to be
able to walk up to Delta Zeta sorority and say, ‘Hey can y’all help us cosponsor this event?’”

Henry said that he wants to publicize the actions SGA is taking and encourage organizations to reach out
to SGA for help.

“By making to where we’re publicizing who we are [and] publicizing what we do, we give the students
an opportunity to say, ‘We can trust them. They’re a body of people that are actually willing to help us.
They’re actually doing the right things to move us toward being a better university,’” Henry said. “I think
being a better SGA can lead to having a better campus.”

Though he is originally from Shreveport, Henry said that he has embraced the Thibodaux community,
which he believes cultivates leaders. His greatest strength, he said, is that he is a sociable person who
leads alongside people.

“I think I mix with a lot of different groups very well. I think I can understand people on a personal
level… I think being able to understand that helps me to be a student leader,” Henry said. “Also, I’m fun.
I love to have fun. Whenever I enter positions of leadership, I don’t look at it more as me managing but
just me leading alongside people.”

Vice President Candidates: Emma Bourgeois and Austin Wendt

Emma Bourgeois is a sophomore allied health pre-professional major from Thibodaux who currently
serves as a college of nursing and allied health senator and campus affairs committee chair for SGA.

Bourgeois said she initially joined these organizations to listen to students’ wants.

“I joined SGA because I wanted to make a difference in the school. I wanted to focus on what other
students wanted and make changes as they requested,” Bourgeois said.

Bourgeois has sat on the courses and curriculum committee and sustainability committee. She currently
serves as a student ambassador, a member of the orientation team, a member of the Student Programming Association and as president of Nicholls’ Circle K International chapter.

Bourgeois said that her experience on orientation team has allowed her to be on the front line listening
to what new Nicholls recruits want from a college. As Circle K president, she said she has learned how to
be a leader who is willing to stand up for her organization.

“Through Circle K, I’ve just kind of learned how to be a leader [and] how to prepare stuff for meetings,”
Bourgeois said. “I learned how not to be scared of standing up for the club. So [with] stuff like that,
especially with funding, I would definitely want to be the voice for the students, and I have experience
doing that with Circle K.”

Her greatest strengths as a leader, Bourgeois said, are both her open-mindedness and her ability to
stand firm in her beliefs. She said that she wants to lead alongside students.

“I’m not scared to speak up when I realize something is being done wrong. I don’t like to be in front all
the time. I like to lead within an organization. Whether that means picking up slack from something else
or just kind of being where I need to be. I believe, as a leader, the most important thing is to lead with
the students you’re leading, not lead them,” Bourgeois said.

If the student body elects her vice president, Bourgeois said that will fully support the new president
and work hand-in- hand with him. She said she plans to encourage members of the Senate to reach out
to students to see what they want.

“I would also like to work hand-in- hand with the Senate members because the Senate members are the
people who bring in the different motion ideas,” Bourgeois said. “We need to hear what students want
first, so I really want to be for the students and with the students in that and make sure all the Senate
members are aware of that to and just kind of like guide the Senate members.”

A five-year senior English major from Baton Rouge, Austin Wendt has been a member of SGA for all four
years of his college career and is currently serving his second term as vice president of the organization.

In that time, he has been part of the presidential search committee.

Wendt has also been an orientation leader and currently serves on Nicholls’ Interfraternity Council (IFC)
as vice president of rush and recruitment along with serving on the student board for Colonel Catholics.
If Wendt is re-elected, he said that he hopes to continue working on several projects that he started this
year, beginning with improving student parking.

“We’ve been working on trying to find a solution for parking [by] making it more convenient on campus.
We don’t have a parking problem on campus. We have a parking convenience problem on campus,”
Wendt said.

Expanding Wi-Fi on campus and extending library hours also remain on Wendt’s agenda, he said.
In addition, Wendt said that he wants to work with administration toward making Thibodaux a college-
friendly town, with discussions ranging from affordable housing to downtown establishments. Included
in those discussions is safe transportation from campus to downtown.

“One of the things that I’m currently working on right now is trying to get a safe transport that will
transport students from downtown to campus,” Wendt said. “We’re wanting to encourage people to
have a good time but to take a safe route home so that they’re not drinking and driving.”

Wendt said that areas on campus he wants to focus on include the Student Union and the quad.

“The quad and the Union are two areas that we want to focus on improving [by] getting more seating
out there, allowing students to have places to go outside and study and enjoy the beautiful campus that
we have and increasing campus beautification,” Wendt said.

Finally, Wendt said that he wants to expand SGA’s continued support for athletics in funding measures
while also increasing Colonel pride.

His strongest quality as a leader, he said, is his adaptability and his ability to communicate with all types
of students, which has grown from his passion for diversity.

“It’s amazing because it allows me to grow as a person, and so my thing is adaptability–being able to
listen to people. I’m a type of leader, while I’m strong, I like to listen to people and to always change
things to make them better. I always think that there’s room for improvement,” Wendt said.

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