By Christopher Borro
As the curtain falls on yet another year at the University of Iowa, members of the graduating class of 2018 will take their final bows. Chief among these are Jacob Simpson and Lilián Sánchez, the former president and vice president of UI Student Government.
“I was actually deciding between Iowa State and the University of Iowa,” Simpson said about considering colleges.
Although he said the ISU campus was gorgeous, he liked the programs and opportunities the UI provided.
Sánchez, who was born in Mexico but grew up around Des Moines, found the UI a different way.
“I was interviewing for a different school, and the person who interviewed me … all they talked about was their experience at Iowa,” she said. “Someone that I admired so much had been talking about this university in a way that was authentic and genuine.”
Both said they had classes that stood out to them throughout their years as students. Simpson, who will graduate with a B.A., in economics with minors in philosophy, English, and music, said he enjoyed an English seminar that focused on the intersections of theology and secularism in literature.
Sánchez, graduating with a degree in political science and ethics and public policy, with minors in French, philosophy, and Latino studies, said she loved a freedom of expression class she took, as well as her challenging but worthwhile French classes.
There were also other activities that defined their years as UI students. Simpson remembered helping to grow the UI Gardeners Glub; Sánchez thought about connecting with her international roommate through the UI Photography Organization.
The pair joined forces after serving with the UISG in other capacities to run a presidential ticket.
“Our mission for the campaign was about representing individual students … rather than forgetting about the individual lives we all lead,” Simpson said.
Sánchez echoed his sentiment.
“Together we came up with a vision we both agreed on and recruited people to run with us,” she said.
Their accomplishments, they said, included working to help integrate first-generation students who might not be familiar with the college experience, as well as working to improve retention through programs such as the Hawkeye Completion Grant.
They said even more could have been done to work on retention, as well as further expanding career services programs and increasing interaction with the student body.
“Throughout this past year, I’ve gained a lot of experience related to project management as well as [learning] how to collaborate with different stakeholders,” Simpson said. “Understanding different perspectives, understanding institutional politics and culture, how to navigate all those complex dynamics.”
He’s considering “way down the road,” a career in public service, community development, or politics.
Similarly, Sánchez’s plans for the future include working with policy.
“I’ve always been interested in public policy and the law … being part of student government gives me an opportunity to be involved in policymaking,” she said.
The pair said they will miss the UI, especially their experiences with people they met.
“I’ll miss the feeling of Iowa City,” Simpson said. “We have such a great atmosphere, with the Ped Mall or walking to see the Old Capitol. Our sunsets, my God, they don’t get better.”
Sánchez agreed with Simpson but said she’ll miss the people as much as the places that have made her UI experience what it is.
“The people are usually what makes a place home. I’m going to miss the connections I’ve made,” Sánchez said. “All of my friends are going to go to different parts of the world, and I’m going to miss knowing this place was home.”