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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Q&A: Student strives to be on ABOR

Kaitlin Thompson is a political science senior and a student regent designee from Northern Arizona University. She will also attend graduate school to get a master’s degree in public administration. If approved by the Legislature, Thompson will begin her two-year term on the Arizona Board of Regents on July 1.

Daily Wildcat: What made you want to become a student regent, and what does it mean to you?

Thompson: I have always had a strong interest in local government. When I was 15, I joined the Mayor’s Youth Commission of Glendale. From there, I was appointed to Glendale’s library board as a student representative. From that point I pretty much knew that was what I wanted to do as a career and as my major. That’s how I decided to choose political science and to pursue that path. I was further encouraged when I was a policy intern in the governor’s office. I was able to do a lot of public policy research and sit in on important meetings. That solidified it completely.

For me, being a student regent means being the voice for students, to give my all and give my absolute dedication to make sure student voices are heard at the state level. A lot of states don’t even have student regents, so I think in Arizona, we’re really fortunate there is a role for students on the state level and they can have a say. It’s a check for accountability and I think more states should have them.

How do you plan to speak on behalf of students?

I think it’s really important that I allow for as much student input as possible. My regent’s email will be set up before my term officially begins. I hope constituents reach out to me and contact me so I know what their needs are. I can research on my own what needs to be done and what’s really important for students, and that’s great, but it can’t replace getting those actual emails and communication from students.

What do you feel the biggest flaw in the university system is, and how will you help improve it?

I would say the biggest flaw is that not enough students actually go out and make their voices heard. I would like to see more students actively involved. From my perspective, I’d like to see more students voicing their opinions and having them heard. I will be very amenable to having students come visit in the office and talk about any issues. I am open to all means of communication.

What are two things you want to work on as a student regent?

I think graduation rates are really huge and I know that’s a big priority for the board as well. I love that their vision for 2020 is to have increased graduation rates without sacrificing the quality of education while increasing research endeavors. I think that’s a really great plan. Graduation rates can be increased if underrepresented students, like first-generation college students, have access to support and resources within their university.

Also, I know a previous student regent did a lot of successful work to make textbooks cheaper for students, which is work I would really like to continue. I think that a lot of publishers are having more digital editions of textbooks and I would like to see that become more available on campus. That way, campus bookstores can compete in the market economy.

How will you find time to balance your responsibilities between graduate school and serving on the board?

I am already seeing my schedule get busier after the announcement of my selection, but I’ve always had really good time management skills. There have been times in my life where I’ve worked, gone to school and done lots of community service all at the same time. I know I’m prepared for it, because I know how to balance my time. I know how to plan free time too so I don’t get burned out or overstressed.

Also, if you’re doing something you enjoy, it’s not just work — it’s fun too. I know I’m really going to enjoy serving this position and I’m really looking forward to it. I know it’ll have its challenging times and issues will come up, but I welcome those challenges. I’m ready to roll my sleeves up and get to work.

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