Future Magazine editors interviewed Leo McCaffrey ’14 and Angelo Novello ’15 about their roles in shaping higher education. These young men are truly leading at the next level, and shared how Riordan prepared them for the challenges of college.
Tell us a little bit about college life:
Leo McCaffrey: I am at the Student Body Vice President at Southern Oregon University. I got started in student government my freshman year as the minute taker for the Student Senate. Over time and with hard work, I went up the ladder to serve as the Senator of Campus Life and Housing my sophomore year, then Director of Governmental Affairs my junior year. Last spring I decided to run for Vice President and after a long race, I received enough votes to assume office.
Since my major is Political Science, my work fits very well into my studies. I oversee 11 people in a cabinet and get to work with them on several issues facing the campus. I also sit on the Oregon Student Association Board of Directors, where I organize and plan lobbying events and leadership roles in the entire state. Being part of the Associated Students of SOU has taught me a lot about being a professional and how to communicate with people about what needs to get done and how to get it done!
Angelo Novello: I’m a junior at the University of Dallas. As the Student Government President, I act as a link between the student body and the university’s administration. I oversee the student senate and various boards and committees, and help set goals. I am also flanker on the rugby team, a member of the society of St. Joseph, and a student worker in the Health Clinic. I entered UD with the intention of pursuing a degree in biology / pre-med. However, after discovering the liberal arts core education at UD and spending a semester studying theology, philosophy, literature, art and architecture in Rome, I changed my major to political philosophy with a pre-med track and hope to go to medical school.
What does it mean to be in student leader? Why did you decide to pursue this track?
AN: Being a part of student government is all about gaining leadership experience and provides a great opportunity for students to practice working in a professional environment. At the college level, there are more responsibilities but also more ways to affect change. This year, I have been given an opportunity to be a part of that formation process and to watch the senators become amazing people and leaders.
LM: Being in leadership at any level is important for many reasons. At times, student voices are not heard because people in power think they know what is best for students. This is a problem because our leaders sometimes forget to listen to the people they represent. The work I do, lobbying the state capital of Oregon, registering people to vote, and much more, is to ensure that decision makers listen and choose what their constituents want.
At times, it is difficult to hold a student leadership position. It means long nights, lots of meetings, and talking about hard issues. However, it is amazing to see something I work on for so long become state law. I have made sacrifices, but I cannot be more proud of the things I have done. What would you tell a high school student interested in getting involved in college politics?
LM: Do it! While it is scary to get involved at first, it makes you smile at the end of the day. Plus, it can be very fun and you will make friends.
AN: The purpose of student government, whether at the high school or college level, is to form students into the best leaders they can be. My number one priority is to provide senators with ample opportunities to grow as leaders and to push them to get outside of their comfort zones and to make a difference in the UD community.
How did Riordan prepare you for next steps?
LM: During my time at Riordan, I was not very involved in Student Government. I tried to make a senior “cheerleader” position but it never worked out. I did participate in the theatre program. I got to be the librarian for some time and also the fundraising chair during my senior year for the Drama Club. The overall experience taught me real life communication skills.
During my junior year, I was taught how to perform research and write a research paper. Since then I got to use these skills right when I entered college. My fellow classmates had to go use the library and learn how to write a bibliography; I already had those skills and could focus on the content of the paper. When I came to college, I never felt scared or ill-prepared, all because Riordan did a wonderful job teaching me the skills I needed to be successful.