Elena Williams: Fostering a Sense of Belonging
It isn’t easy to change course mid-stream. It’s difficult to take those first crucial steps towards a self-given second chance. For Minneapolis College student body president, Elena Williams, once the vision of a new future for herself and her community took hold, she didn’t just dip in a toe. She dove all the way in.
With the turmoil of 2020, it would have been easy to feel boxed in by closing doors, but Elena took it as an opportunity to find an open one. She had taken Post-Secondary Education Option classes from Minneapolis College while in high school and loved the campus. So, when she looked at what a new future could look like, Minneapolis College was an easy choice.
Williams has always been passionate about causes larger than herself, and while she enjoyed her work in finance, she didn’t feel it allowed her to reach out and help people the way she truly wanted to. Despite fears of being too far removed from academia, time away from her young son and strain on her current job, Williams enrolled in classes with the mindset that she would only take on what she could handle.
It turns out Williams could handle plenty. “It just went phenomenally. It turned out I was really ready to go back to school. I was also looking for a way to be involved with something bigger than myself.” Williams said.
After seeing a notification to sign up for student senate she decided to take the first step and reach out. After contacting people in Student Life, she was made interim director of communications for the student body senate. When the presiding student body president stepped down, Williams put herself up for the position. She was made student body president in December of 2020.
When asked what she would like to say to any student considering joining the student senate, Williams said, “just come and listen. Even if you don’t want to participate. If you’re just a little bit interested in what we do, I’m interested in you. You might have a cause or life experience that could help other students.”
Williams’s message is one of welcome inclusion for the purpose of fostering a sense of belonging for everyone. That includes students, staff and the community at large. Any student interested in student government is encouraged to refer to the Student Senate Portal in D2L and check the calendar for Zoom information about General Assembly meetings. General Assembly meetings are held via Zoom Thursdays from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m.