After transferring to FAU just before the start of the pandemic last year and spending months fighting for racial justice, 22-year-old Elementary Education major Rhoda Hoods says she was inspired to run for office by the civil unrest of last summer and its impact on the FAU community.
“I felt like there was more I wanted to do in the community here,” says Hoods.
Upon returning for fall, the Sunrise, FL native joined the Boca House of Representatives, where she sat on the Campus Budget Allocation Committee and helped allocate over $900,000 to student organizations on campus.
“I was able to put my voice in on certain groups that I personally felt might need more funding, because they help a broader range of students.”
Hoods says the biggest challenge in her candidacy has been overcoming her personal anxieties.
“I just get very nervous and doubt myself sometimes on how [I am] going to execute all of these ideas and plans that I have in my head. I have people who are there to help me and that really helps push me and gives me more strength to continue the campaign,” says Hoods.
The last Black woman to hold the Boca Governor chair was Der’Resha Bastien, who served from 2017-18. As Governor, she made legislative changes to SAVI, Night Owls, and COSO, and implemented the first mental health program within Student Government. Like Hoods, she was the only Black woman candidate in her race.
“The most challenging part about being Governor was addressing issues that primarily affect marginalized students alongside SG leaders who aren’t naturally inclined to consider our experiences,” says Bastien. “I learned how to use politics in a way that showed other SG Branches that all students can benefit from those initiatives.”
Hoods also wants to focus her time as governor on passing legislation that accommodates students of all backgrounds.
“FAU is, I believe, the number one most diverse school in the state of Florida, and number 10 in the country, however, do students really feel that?” says Hoods.
As diverse as the student body may be, that same diversity is hardly reflected in the highest levels of Student Government. The top seats in each branch have all been held by white students since 2018.
While the first semesters of college are often spent enjoying newfound freedom and exploring interests, Hoods wants to ensure that students are set up for success as soon as they step foot on campus.
“I want [students] to think more in terms of philanthropic servant leadership, you know, the ‘what can I do to help promote myself and people around me’ type of approach.” she says.
Even though she doesn’t have her eyes set on a career in politics, Hoods says the experience of being Governor will still be an excellent training ground for her future endeavors as an aspiring superintendent.
“I am fully going into this position wanting to understand how I can make a positive impact on students in class.” says Hoods.
Voting for Student Government is available now on Owl Central until 11:59pm on February 24th. Once confirmed, the elected officials will serve the day after April 2021 Commencement to May 2022 Commencement.