Diverse female senators add missing voice to SA

New Students’ Association senators were sworn into service April 13. Among those new senators were four female senators who broke a long-time barrier for SA.

Iris Le, Erica Manandhar and Sushmita Shrestha are the first Asian female senators to serve on the SA senate in 10 years. Semehar Ghebrekidan is the first black female senator in 15 years.

According to all four of the new senators, taking on this role is exciting and filled with responsibility.

“I’m really happy because SDSU always tries to promote the diversity here on campus and … having us be a part of senate is a big deal,” Le said.

Le represents the College of Nursing, Manandhar and Shrestha represent graduate students and Ghebrekidan represents the College of Arts and Sciences.

“I’m really humbled and honored by getting to fill this role … I’m the first black female senator in the last 15 years, and I was kind of surprised by that,” Ghebrekidan said. “I looked through all the records available in the SA office … I was shocked but also it makes me happy because I can be a leader and a role model for other minority students on campus to step up and take these leadership positions seriously.”

While all four senators expressed that their main goal is to represent their colleges, each has additional plans to represent their roles as minority females.

“I’m happy that I get to initiate this process and … I’m proud and happy that we can be that example … It’s nice there are so many of us starting … It brings a lot of diversity to the senate … there’s going to be a lot of diversity and we can all contribute and reach out to different groups,” Manandhar said.

 Ghebrekidan participates in nine different student organizations and plans to use this experience in her time as a senator. The Multicultural Center expansion and working with the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Finance Committee are Ghebrekidan’s passions and goals.

“I would like to help with the Finance Committee, because it is important to have someone who is in four or five different organizations,” Ghebrekidan said.

While Brookings is a welcoming community, coming to SDSU as an international student can bring on some insecurities, Shrestha said. In her time as a senator, Shrestha plans to form a “cohesive relationship between international students and American students.”

“When I first came to this country I was a very different person … I was scared to do different things … I’ve come out of my bubble and it’s given me more confidence 

and known so many people…look for different things, try different things,” Manandhar said.

According to Shrestha, women are not always given roles or opportunities like serving on SA and she encourages all women to share their opinions.

“It’s a very good opportunity for international students…in other countries women don’t always get the opportunity … it’s good to try out,” Shrestha said.

Having the opportunity to serve as the first minority female senators in many years is personally meaningful, Le said.

“It means a lot…especially in my family my mom came from Asia all by herself, she was always a role model to be a strong female leader…a strong Asian female leader… it’s mind boggling,” Le said.

Having different perspectives and paving the way for minority women in the future will be “essential” to SA this year, Ghebrekidan said.

“I’m going to bring a strong voice…I’m not afraid to speak up…I stand for what I believe in and I talk if I feel like words need to be spoken,” Ghebrekidan said.

In terms of opening up the positions for the future, all four women hope to inspire others to take their place and follow in their footsteps. Working on leadership skills, and reaching outside of one’s comfort zone are necessary to the college experience, Ghebrekidan said.

“Don’t be afraid to have a voice, especially since there are so little of us, which means it’s of greater importance for us to step out of our comfort zone and take on that leadership role,” Le said.

Le said making sure that all students have a voice and are represented makes her role important. According to Le, having these four minority female senators will change the dynamic of SA, but that it’s a “good thing.”