Megan Bodenschatz, USG President

When she’s not buzzing around the office or moving from one meeting to another, Undergraduate Student Government (USG) president Megan Bodenschatz finds time to reflect on the ways that her journey at The University of Akron has shaped her into the person she is today.

A senior studying public relations with a minor in hotel management, Bodenschatz says that her connections to UA stretch beyond the four years she has spent at the school. Raised in nearby Canton, Ohio her entire life, both Bodenschatz’s father and sister were both alumni of UA, and are whom she credits for piquing her early interest in the university. “It seemed like the right fit,” she says, “and I’ve never, ever regretted my decision to come here.”

Upon beginning her freshman year, Bodenschatz was a participant in the Emerging Leaders Program where she says she was encouraged to become actively involved on campus. Her older sister, with whom she shared two years on campus, had been involved in student government by the time Megan first started at the university. “She’s really what pulled me in at first,” says Megan.

“I’m not a politician. It’s not about wanting to further my political career; it’s more about wanting to grow in my leadership and communication skills.”

Having worked her way up the USG latter, Bodenschatz got her start on the communications committee her freshman year, then moved to director of communications her sophomore year, chief of staff her junior year, and finally USG president her senior year.

“Started from the bottom, now we’re here,” she jokes as she discusses the challenging path to becoming student government president.

“Up until halfway through my junior year, I thought it was something I never wanted,” says Bodenschatz. For her, the idea of campaigning was a truly daunting task. “It wasn’t necessarily about not being able to fulfill the role,” she says. “It was the idea of taking all of my weaknesses—debating and campaigning— and throwing them at me. It was something I thought was way outside my comfort zone.”

Bodenschatz says there was no real definitive moment in which she made the decision to run, but rather the gradual build of self-confidence over the past three years which had led her to believe in her abilities.

After running a successful election with Vice President Sterling Galehouse, Bodenschatz immediately got to work fulfilling her duties as USG president. She describes undergraduate student government as “a body that acts as a liaison between students and administration.” She says they accomplish this in a variety of ways, either through meetings with administrators or by writing resolutions and pieces of legislation that recommend campus changes. “We’re constantly looking at what issues there are on campus for students and how we can fix them with creative solutions,” she says.

One piece of legislation that was passed in the fall and is expected to be implemented fairly soon is the installation of a food composter outside of Rob’s Café. “Sustainability has been a big topic in our organization this year,” says Bodenschatz. “It’s a great example of a student bringing that concern to us, and how we can figure out ways to improve the campus for everyone.”

As far as the personal growth she has experienced through her involvement in USG, says the rewards have been endless. Although balancing her time as USG president and a full-time student with an additional internship has not been easy, Bodenschatz says she has learned her own limits and how to delegate tasks to the team around her.

“I’ve learned so much about my leadership style, my communication style, and just how to interact with people,” she says. “I’ve learned how to have fun, light-hearted conversations which encourage members while also being able to have more deep, constructive conversations with those who are not meeting expectations. It’s having to flip between being a leader and mentor, and finding that balance.”

Though striking that balance can be difficult, Bodenschatz says the honor of the position far outweighs its complexities. “When people come up to me and tell me that I’ve influenced them or made an impact, it makes everything worth it; all the tears, all the sweat, it’s worth it. “

Bodenschatz’s role in USG has also been significant in that not only does she act as the leader of student government, but she also presides as the female president of the governing body. She remarks that the dynamic between herself and her vice president has been an interesting one to see play out in that “we’ve gotten to see a lot of the interaction between a woman’s leadership style and a man’s working alongside one another. We’ve definitely learned a lot from each other.”

Bodenschatz admits that she initially struggled with questioning her own leadership style at the beginning of the school year. “It’s never really a good place to begin, especially for women.” she says. “It’s important for women to be strong and confident in their leadership skills and abilities.”

Still, she says she’s glad to have faced that challenge early on. “I’m glad I was [faced with that]. I’m going out to the work world in five weeks, so I’m glad to have learned these things about myself now. Already being self-aware of how to best approach things will help me in knowing how to be an effective female leader.”

As for the importance of women filling leadership roles on campus, Bodenschatz says experiences for college women in mangaging and directing aids in the development of a strong skillset by which they can navigate the workplace, and the larger world.

“The really nice thing about The University of Akron is that we are surrounded by so many great female advisers, professors, and mentors who we, as up-and-coming professional female leaders, can look to for guidance.”

In looking toward her future, Bodenschatz says she is looking to “learn and grow and develop [my] skillset, and continue to move upward from there.”

“I don’t really know what the biggest and the best looks like right now, and for everyone it’s different,” she says. “But I know that it will be something good. I know that I will work hard to get to a place where I am happy and satisfied in what I’m doing, and I’m comfortable with myself and with my surroundings.”

There is no doubt that Bodenschatz will find her way to that “something good.” With her warm personality and matchless drive to create the best outcome possible for her peers, it is now her turn to construct that fulfilling conclusion for herself. We certainly wish her the best.

 

 

*Photos courtesy of: Megan Bodenschatz