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A University at Albany senator has been named one of 10 up-and-coming college feminist change makers in the nation, and has been chosen to serve on the American Association of University Women (AAUW) National Student Advisory Council.
Named the “Optimistic Advocate” on Oct. 17, Julia Alford became involved with the UAlbany Student Association in the spring of her freshman year after attending Elect Her, a program that trains college women to run for student government. Although the junior political science major is now the highest ranking female senator on campus, during her freshman year she was not happy at UAlbany and was considering transferring to another school.
“I went through the Elect Her program and it was a really great motivator for me to learn that there was a need for woman to be represented on campus. So I said to myself that night, I am going to nominate myself and I am going to run in this election and if I don’t win I will transfer out,” the junior who is also double minoring in informatics and philosophy said.
Three terms later and Alford is still at UAlbany, and since then has held many positions in SA. She sat on the Committee of Constituent Relations as a second semester freshman, sophomore year she served as chair for the Committee of Rules and Administration, and this year as a junior she was appointed to be on the Board of Finance and also serves on the Committee of Appropriations.
The SA at times has had a controversial reputation on campus. Last year during the Parkfest Ticketing catastrophe, students began to question why SA is not more transparent about how they choose to operate and what their true role is in governing the university.
Alford herself is working to help SA be more forthcoming about how they handle procedures and how they distribute information. Recently the comptroller of the SA has resigned and the SA is trying to heavily publicize this new position on campus.
“It’s important that everyone knows that this is happening because at the end of the day we want to make sure that the best person is in this position. But also to spread the word about what the comptroller does and how it could benefit you or me,” the Melville, NY native said.
Alford is extremely involved on campus; she is the political liaison for Great Danes for Israel, the secretary for Pi Sigma Alpha, she is a brother of Phi Alpha Delta, and a member of College Democrats. However, she cautions students who want to be involved on campus to remember that their number one priority is that they are a student and that they are here to succeed academically and to learn.
“You cannot major in extra-curriculars . . . you need to make sure that you are staying within your major,” Alford said. “You’re fulfilling the requirements that you need to have, but you’re also achieving.”
With a padded resume, Alford recognizes that she is sometimes missing out on spending time with her friends.
“I understand that you can’t have it all and so there are things that you have to give and take and that’s okay. You find time,” she said.
Alford’s interest in the women’s empowerment movement really took off once she attended AAUW’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders. This past summer she took the skills she learned from AAUW and decided to work as a legislative intern at the National Council of Jewish Women in Washington, D.C.
“It was empowering just to be around people that were trying to take steps forward and talking about issues that I care about. And I ended up actually being apart of issues that I never thought I would care about.”
She spent the rest of her summer working on sex trafficking initiatives, an area of gender equality she had never explored in depth prior to this internship.
As far as gender equality on campus, she knows even on a campus as progressive as UAlbany’s, that there is still room to grow; the SA’s Senate is 44 percent female.
“That’s not good enough, but I know that moving forward we’re making progress and we’re taking steps so when I come back in ten years to talk in front of the senate, I want to make sure that half the room is women or more. That would be cool too,” the junior said.

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