MSA president-elect hopes to connect with as many students as possible
Julia Wopata plans on using her love for people to govern as student body president
May. 01, 2018
If someone told her freshman year that she was going to be the Missouri Students Association president, she would have called them crazy. She was brand new to a campus that had over 30,000 people enrolled.
President Julia Wopata had a general idea of what her college plan was going to look like: get to school, do well, get her degree and leave. She soon realized that it wasn’t going to be as cut and dry as she planned.
In high school, Wopata was involved in student council, show choir, volleyball and enrolled in a leadership class. Her identity was formed around her involvement.
“I had to redefine who I was,” Wopata said. “I had done so many things in high school, but then I came to school and nobody knew who I was.”
It didn't take long for Wopata to change that. Naturally extroverted, Wopata joined campus ministry Veritas and Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, where she was connected with people who encouraged her to grow into the person she is today.
“I had so many awesome people around me that by the end of freshman year, I was so secure in who I was and what I want to pursue,” Wopata said.
Now, three years later, Wopata is using her love of people to form connections with student organizations in hopes of improving the student experience at MU. From emailing student representatives to simply walking people to class, Wopata hopes to incorporate people’s personal experiences in her leadership style.
“Through my time at MU I learned that I love people and that’s what gives me energy,” Wopata said. “I worked my tail off to make sure I met with people and learned about what organizations needed from all these different parts of campus.”
If Wopata hadn’t made this extra effort, she may not have even been in this position in the first place.
“I almost didn’t run the second time around, for the second election,” Wopata said. “But after meeting all these people and learning their stories, I was very moved. These people are so great and they really deserve to be represented so well.”
In reaching out to these people, Wopata also learned that finding similarities rather than focusing on differences is the best way to come to agreements.
“So many people have already reached out to me asking for support,” Wopata said. “I listen to them and maybe I don’t agree with them on the whole thing, but it’s about being honest about what you agree/disagree with and giving them my support.”
Wopata likes to compare networking with these groups to the data tree structures she would encounter in her computer science courses. There’s a single node on the top of the tree that permeates throughout all the other nodes beneath it.
“You can have one person who tells two people something and those two people tell two more people and it just spreads,” Wopata said. “It’s going to be an army of people working together towards this common goal.”
Wopata and her army hope to make sure each student feels heard. After running under the slogan “More to Roar,” Wopata has found that she truly loves making people feel valued, just like how her Theta sisters made her feel three years ago.
“I firmly believe that we are the sum of all our influences,” Wopata said. “There are so many people who have touched us along the way in our lives that has shaped us into the people we are today.”
Edited by Caitlyn Rosen | firstname.lastname@example.org