New student government leaders to focus on student health and well being

Nicholas Hopkins of Bossier City has been elected as Northwestern State University’s Student Government Association President for the 2020-21 academic year. Kristen Prejean of Lafayette will serve as Vice President. Hopkins and Prejean were elected without opposition and will take office on Monday, April 27 at 6 p.m. in a ceremony that will be done via WebEx.

Hopkins, a junior business administration major, has been active in the SGA for the past two years as a senator and was Speaker of the Senate last year. As Speaker, he helped draft legislation that allows students to sit on university hiring committee and recognizes student and faculty achievement.

“I wanted to get involved with the Student Government Association because I really wanted to make an impact on this university,” said Hopkins. “I saw as a freshman that the campus leaders that were really making an impact were doing so through SGA. I wanted to be a part of that group, helping to enhance and enrich the student experience at Northwestern State.”

Prejean, a junior biology major, has been active in the Student Government Association for two years as student affairs commissioner.

“One thing that I love about SGA is getting to talk with students and hear their concerns and figure out what we can do to address concerns as well as enhance the student experience,” said Prejean.

Hopkins said his top initiatives will be geared towards student health and well-being. He plans to create a recreation area along Chaplain’s Lake near the Jefferson St. entrance to campus as a space where students can go to do homework or gather on the edge of the lake. He envisions the area as a relaxing place that will have benches and posts for students to hang hammocks from.

Prejean and her student affairs committee began exploring the hammock station idea as well as a bike rack near the library. This year, she would like to develop an online calendar of SGA events to inform students about upcoming events.

Hopkins succeeds Jacob Ellis of Athens, who served two terms as SGA President. He credits Ellis’ administration for its work of engaging students and helping to create a good student experience.

“We hope to continue to enhance the student experience at Northwestern State,” said Hopkins. “We will continue to build off the last administration’s civic engagement initiatives by hosting voter registration drives and other events that provide information on the candidates running for public office.”

The COVID-19 virus has had a major impact on the current academic year. No one knows how the pandemic will affect the upcoming academic year, but Hopkins plans to find ways to help students.

“We will have a heavier focus on the mental health of students when they return to campus,” said Hopkins. “We understand this pandemic has added great amounts of stress to everyone and we will work with the university administration to help our students however we can. We are currently in the process of planning initiatives that will help students transition back to life on campus and help return normalcy to the student experience.”

Students had to undergo a major transition, going from in person to online classes and they face another transition in the next academic year.

“With the unforeseen circumstances that occurred with the COVID-19, I want to be able to make the transition back from online to in person classes as smooth as possible for students as well ensuring that individual’79s mental health remains a top priority,” said Prejean. “Once we return back to some type of normalcy, we will have a better understanding of more needs that students have and will be able to address them to the best of our abilities.”

Hopkins is a member of Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity, Alpha Lambda Delta academic honor society, Order of Omega Greek Honor Society and the Catholic Student Organization. He served as a Freshman Connection orientation leader in 2018 and 2019.

Prejean is the Panhellenic delegate for Phi Mu fraternity, a member of Purple Jackets, Alpha Lambda Delta, Order of Omega, Blue Key, and Tri Beta honors societies. She was a Presidential Ambassador and Freshmen Connection orientation leader for two years.

Pictured: Incoming Northwestern State University Student Government Association President Nicholas Hopkins, left, and Vice President Kristen Prejean.