by, Gabriella DePinho, Editor-in-Chief
In the middle of each spring semester, students are barraged by a flurrying of campaigning done by Student Government Assembly Executive Board hopefuls. Yet this spring, as a result of the then just beginning pandemic, election season went virtual but the passionate candidates did not let that stop their hopes.
After days of Instagram posts and a virtual town hall, senior public health major Shannon Gleba was elected Manhattan College’s student body president for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Hailing from Midland Park, New Jersey, Gleba arrived at Manhattan College from Immaculate Heart Academy, an all-girls’ high school in Bergen County. For Gleba, becoming a Jasper was in her blood.
“I ended up at Manhattan College because both my parents attended Manhattan, as well as my uncle and grandfather, so it was just kind of in the family and it was a good next step for me as well,” she said.
Upon arriving at Manhattan College, Gleba wasted no time in becoming involved. She arrived on campus already a member of The Quadrangle, having been awarded The Quadrangle scholarship at the end of her senior year of high school. Additionally, she joined the women’s rowing team during her first semester.
Beyond being a staff writer for The Quadrangle, Gleba has served as a copy editor for the publication since the second semester of her freshman year. She also started working in the Center for Academic Success as a writing consultant at the beginning of her sophomore year.
Her favorite part of it all? The people she’s met along the way.
“I like being part of these activities because they give a great sense of community and friendship,” Gleba said. “I really made my best friends through clubs and organizations on campus, and they give you a real sense of what it means to be a leader and real-world experience for after college as well.”
Gleba’s first introduction to an elected position in the Student Government Assembly was during junior year, where she served as a Vice President of the School of Education and Health.
“My sophomore year I just became pretty interested in the process of student government and I wanted to get more involved in leadership on campus, and on the government side of things, so I just reached out to people who were already on student government and they encouraged me to run for Vice President for the School of Education and Health,” she said. “So in that role, I worked with another student, Shanice Lyle, and we had to organize events for the School of Education and Health during the semester.”
Jumping from VP of the School of Education and Health to running for Student Body President was quite the leap, but Gleba felt she could handle it.
“This year I kind of want to get more involved and have a bigger role, so I put together a board of people who I know are super involved on campus and would be really great for the job and we decided to campaign and run in March and ultimately won in April,” Gleba said. “I think a large part of it was that I saw a need for not someone like me, but someone with the same ideals as myself, in the position. I wanted to make sure it was filled by somebody who had the skills and the abilities to lead a school like this.
“I think I was also encouraged by the people who were brought onto my board because we had discussions about who should run for what position and ultimately we decided that I had the passion and the drive to be student body president.”
While former newly executive board members normally have the summer off, Gleba and members of her executive board started to work right away.
“We kind of got thrown into the positions with not much background or training because there was such a need for us to be leaders,” Gleba said. “We’ve just been facing a lot in a few short weeks in this position, but I think this has been really beneficial because we also kind of were thrown into the fire, and you kind of learn as you go. So we’ve learned everything upfront and we can keep working as we go along this year.”
The newly elected president and her team were brought into conversations about coronavirus and returning to campus, as well as growing conversations around racial justice and equity. During the summer, the board had weekly meetings to discuss and plan for the school year, as well as two open meetings. In one of those meetings, the Black Student Union was made an official school club.
“Something that became really important to us over the summer was making the Black Student Union an official club on campus,” she said. “As a board, we all agreed that that was very far overdue and should have been completed way earlier. So that was probably the first thing on my to-do list.”
However, Gleba hopes that one small step is just the beginning of good things for the campus community.
“I think we can see a rise of activism in our students this year and I think working alongside them towards these goals is definitely important for me this year as well,” Gleba said. “I just have a lot of passion for the school and for equity and justice for all.”
Gleba, who hopes to have a career in law one day, notes that her time at Manhattan College has molded her into the leader she has become.
“I think I’m a completely different person than I was in high school and I’m happy to say that,” she said. “I really just have grown so much confidence in my ability to speak up and things like that since high school and 14-year old, or even 18-year-old Shannon definitely would not have seen me in this position.
“I think it’s important to remember that those points in your life where you weren’t the person you wanted to be, help you become the person you do want to be at the end. I am thankful for shy and anxious Shannon in high school because, without that, I would not have been where I am today.”