Letter: Why I support Langie Cadesca for SA president
This past semester, I graduated from University at Albany’s undergraduate sociology program after just five semesters. For 2.5 years as an undergraduate, in addition to my studies in sociology, I invested much time helping to teach freshman in the Writing and Critical Inquiry (WCI) program and, separately, as both a senator and as executive assistant to Student Association President Jerlisa Fontaine. In all three roles, I’ve developed deep friendships, made lasting memories, and, most of all, did my best to advocate for students’ educational success, inclusion, and the opportunity to gain meaningful knowledge outside of their curricula. I’ve worked in the Senate to help memorialize the UAlbany alumni who died on 9/11; I lobbied City of Albany officials to ensure our water was safe to drink; I authored a bill to re-write our by-laws to be gender inclusive to all; I participated in the SA mentorship program; and I guided the president on matters of real political consequence and negotiated internal problems as best I could. However, I could not have done so without serious support from the people around me, who provided encouragement and an unwavering hand in any effort to better the student experience at UAlbany.
I have many people to whom I owe much. This is a letter for two of those people, who just so happen to be running for SA president and vice president: Langie Cadesca and Nicholas Pepe. I hope they take this note well, and I hope the student body can learn a bit more about them based on what I’m about to say.
I met Langie through a mutual friend freshman year; then, as sophomores, we became close friends when I served in the senate. While she took our sophomore year off from SA to join Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc., of which she is now President, Langie still made time to visit SA to donate her ideas and counsel to then-President Felix Abreu and then-chief of staff Fontaine. Langie is honest, empathetic, and excited (seemingly always). In addition, Langie is an impassioned leader, who leads through listening, adapting, and believing in the concerns of others. But what surprised (and impressed) me the most about Langie is her ability to become deeply involved in many different arenas, commit fully to them, and still make time and put forth the effort to be a stellar, exemplary student. Langie wants to become a lawyer. Langie knows that only serious commitment to her studies will enable her to achieve her goal. I learned all of this through conversations with her over the course of two years. She is open to critique because she’s constantly trying to better herself and others. Indeed, It is her ability to be committed and to be open in all facets of her work that lets me write this letter so confidently.
And although I had not met Nick freshman year, I had always heard his name circulate in my friend groups. Of course, for good reason. Nick is unequivocally the best person I know at UAlbany. Despite not yet becoming friends, while in the Senate together, he asked if he could sit next to me. Being new to the Senate, I was eager to have someone help me learn the ropes. Little did I know that Nick was also new to the Senate. It was the very fact that I assumed he’d been there for years—because of the way he carried himself—that told me how knowledgeable he was and how he undoubtedly had something special about him. He’s a bright smile in a room and a sincere friend. He is an earnest student, a public advocate, and an aspiring civil servant. Nick currently has an internship in the New York State Assembly. When he first described to me his responsibilities there—lofty, as they were—I sat and listened in awe. His ability to rise to the occasion, under perhaps less-than-ideal circumstances, is laudable. Most importantly, as a Vice President, and as I witnessed firsthand from Vice President Madeeha Khan, being able to hold down the fort, to coordinate logically, and to assume the top leadership position in the case of an emergency are the top qualities of a Vice President. Nick embodies these virtues in ways that are rare not just at UAlbany, but anywhere young people live.
As a graduate student who now gets to peer into the excitement of this SA election season from afar, I witness the passion for leadership, the drive toward inclusiveness, and the will to create a better school from all the candidates—in the Senate race and for Executive positions. Indeed, I remember the feeling; I remember campaigning and I remember doing all I could do to put myself out there. I remember eagerly awaiting the results; I know how good it feels to be believed in when given the opportunity to impact our school’s community. I remember meeting with local and school officials and talking about strategies to better student life, then fighting to change the rules and provisions that inhibited that goal. I know Langie and Nicholas well enough to know that they believe in the same values. I know Langie and Nick well enough to know that their impact can surpass even what we’ve seen so far from presidents Francis Agyemang, Jarius Jemmott, Abreu, and Fontaine; and from Vice Presidents Marc Cohen, Kevin Murphy, Colin Manchester, and Khan.
Leaving a legacy is something I’ve spoken about extensively with Langie and Nick. Indeed, they know what these jobs mean and what they entail. Moreover, they embrace challenges and reject negativity in adverse circumstances. These two are idea-driven, open-minded, and, most importantly, passionate and committed to addressing the diverse challenges we face. I, literally, cannot think of two better people to support as president and vice President of the SA.