Meet SA presidential candidate ShanTorrian Underwood

ShanTorrian Underwood, a sophomore and Student Association (SA) presidential hopeful, prefers not to shy away from a challenge.

An africana studies major and journalism and mass communication minor, the Columbian College senator has worn a number of hats on campus. She is a staff assistant in the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement and a member of the Public Service Commission Grant Service. She also belongs to the National Association of Black Journalists, GW’s multicultural student magazine ACE, and the Dean’s Advisory Council in the Columbian College.

Through all of her efforts, Underwood has one thing on her mind: change.

“Just wanting change to happen is not enough,” she explained. “You also need to run for these leadership positions if you want to instill change.”

Platform and Policies

Underwood’s platform focuses on three areas: intentionality, access, and community.

From reducing GW dining vendor fees to expanding programming for students on the Mount Vernon Campus, Underwood has voiced a number of ambitious goals for her SA presidential run. The crux of her platform, however, is to shine a light on those who haven’t had the opportunity to lead these changes.

“I feel as though with all of us working together on GW’s campus, we can make a difference, we can rise together,” she said in reference to her slogan, “Together We Rise.”

“It’s bringing people who have been historically left out of the room into the conversation,” she explained.

Underwood emphasized that the focus of her slogan also reflects what initially motivated her to run for SA president.

“I think that inspired me to run just seeing the fact that there was a lack of voices being heard and a lack of different community group concerns being addressed,” she said.  “I want someone who will be listening to students, who will talk to them, and also someone who will empathize and sympathize with them as a leader.”

With two semesters in GW’s student government under her belt, Underwood moves fast, having worked with administrators over the summer on the campus-wide diversity training that has already been implemented.

“It’s been awesome talking to administrators and actually getting to make a difference,” she said. “I get to see how we can actually make change happen rather than how we need it.”

But Underwood’s accomplishments only tell one side of the story.

“As a student of color on this campus, I have faced a lot of adversity,” she said. “Also, having professors say weird comments to you like ‘wow, you’re so well spoken’—what does that even mean?”

Despite these challenges, Underwood says that sitting still isn’t an option.

“I think you have to be optimistic,” she said. “I can’t just shut down and go in my room and not do anything about it. I have to be that voice for change otherwise nothing is going to be done.”

Underwood gives a lot of credit to her team, who she says endlessly encourage her and help her expand her outreach.

“They’re just the best people because they’re also just super busy and doing other things on campus, so having them to take the time out of their day to help me is also awesome,” she explained. “They’re mainly people who like to be in the background; my team is very much about getting things done.”

Underwood’s mom also supports her from the sidelines, checking in with her and promoting her campaign on social media. The Tampa native credits her mom as her inspiration.

“She inspires me just because she cares about me,” Underwood said. “I think she’s my inspiration because she keeps me sane.”

When asked what she does for fun, Underwood looked puzzled at first. Having ventured from Florida to Washington, D.C. for school and Paris for a brief summer stint, she said she uses her free time before interviews and between her commitments to daydream about travel plans.

“Something that I like to do for fun is plan different vacations for myself in the future,” she laughed. “It’s just fun to plan out what you’re going to see and do.”

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series profiling this year’s candidates for SA president. The Rival does not endorse any candidates for student office. Student Association elections will be held on March 27 and 28.

Campus, SA19Rhea MalviyaSA19