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The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Thrust into leadership: Student Senate president Marianna Sousa reflects on challenges old and new

For a more complete version of Marianna Sousa’s remarks, see


Student Senate President Marianna Sousa reflects on challenges old and new going into the Spring semester at City College.
Student Senate President Marianna Sousa reflects on challenges old and new going into the Spring semester at City College.

You were pretty busy last semester with everything going on.

How did you know?


What was the biggest challenge you faced as a result of the shooting?

When I first came into this position, I was so focused on just learning the basics: learning how to run a meeting, learning how to create relationships with the board, learning how to execute. And then, boom! [The shooting] happened out of the blue.

It just pumped a lot of fear into people I didn’t realize, until that happened how many people suffer from PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder], how many people have been in random acts of violence. It really surfaced uncertainty for students, because it gave us the opportunity to see that there are some things we need to tighten up on.

So we stewed in that and allowed the family to mourn. … I had to really sit back and say, “I can’t just let this die down. I can’t let this simmer in fear and just evaporate into the universe,” So I came up with the idea to create Safety Awareness & Crisis Prevention Day.

When did you find out about President Kathryn Jeffery leaving to take a new position in Santa Monica?

She told me a couple of weeks ago. It’s been a really great honor and privilege to watch how she conducts herself in every way. She’s just a really well-balanced leader overall; she just exemplifies positive leadership. I know wherever [President Jeffery is] headed to, she’s going to do great things.

Can you describe working with President Jeffery?
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One thing I noticed about Dr. Jeffery is that she has a unique balance of grace, but she’s assertive in the way that she knows how to take charge and lead. That’s a very interesting way to temper leadership because sometimes when you’re too graceful, people think they can run over you. And when you’re too abrasive or too assertive, people can be put off.

The way she keeps the focus there and quality in serving all the students, she’s very good at making sure we represent not just the students who look like me, not just the students who look like a certain group or certain age, but every single student on the campus. That was one of her first statements to me in our first meeting, and it was one of the strongest pieces of advice she gave me because now, when I step in my role, it’s to make sure to look out for everyone, even the voiceless students.

What do you expect for this upcoming semester?

So the game plan for me after speaking to my adviser Kim Beyer — who’s great — and some of my mentors … was to just learn the job. I think leaders and activists, we get really excited, and sometimes we jump in and spread ourselves really thin.

So the goal for the first semester … was to learn the role, learn my part, work with my V.P. [Vice President], Ansel Chan, who’s excellent at just being thorough and calm and consistent even, when you have nerves and you’re trying to figure out what to do. Learning to work with the different people on the board who have the wisdom and have the experience, but also trust my brand of leadership — that to me was the priority.

Now round two, spring semester, it’s about executing, It’s about creating the events, and it’s about actually getting in and making the connections to provide more for the students.

How do you expect the rest of your term to go?

I’m pretty confident. I think at this point the nervousness and some of the jitters [were] definitely [there] early on in the game, but I’m comfortable now.

At this point, I can run a meeting without feeling like I’m going to miss something or skip over someone. I have a strong enough team that even when we do make mistakes, we stand corrected in grace, and we work together to work through the kinks.

I feel one hundred percent more confident — I already was confident; I’m a confident young lady as it is — but there’s one thing to be confident and know that you can always stand in the space of learning and growing. I’d also like to put it out there that … we’re seeking people to get heavily involved in student government and take up some senator positions.

Do you have any advice for incoming students and aspiring student leaders?

Join Student Senate. If you are a student, faculty member or admin that either gets into leadership, supports leadership or advocates for leadership, there is no reason why you should not be taking a trip up to SOG [South Gymnasium] 226 on campus, because we have roles and opportunities here.

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