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Get to Know MSA VP-Elect Helena Kooi

Xavier Billingsley and Helena Kooi are the new Missouri Student Association (MSA) leaders! Students voted for these two to take initiative in the name of every student on campus. Helena and Xavier won't take office until the new semester, but they already have big plans for Mizzou. We sat down with Vice President-elect Helena to talk about her position.

Her Campus Mizzou: How does it feel to be a new face of MSA?
Helena Kooi: I could not be more excited! Serving as vice president of MSA is an incredible opportunity, and I take my responsibilities as a representative of the entire student body very seriously.

HCM: Can you tell me a little about Xavier and yourself?
HK: Xavier and I come from very diverse backgrounds but became good friends working as Summer Welcome leaders together this past summer. Xavier is a junior Sports Management major from Blytheville, Ark. He has been involved in a variety of activities at Mizzou, including Homecoming Steering Committee and serving as MSA Chief of Staff. I am a junior Strategic Communication and International Studies major from Tucson, Ariz. I am a campus tour guide and am currently a student coordinator for Mizzou's new student orientation program, Summer Welcome. We are both greek and have served in executive positions in our respective chapters.

HCM: Why did you run for MSA?
HK: I decided to run for vice president of MSA because I realized that out of all the organizations at Mizzou, MSA is the one that has the most profound impact on student life. I wanted to put my love of all things Mizzou to work, and I saw student government as the best outlet in which I could make a difference.

HCM: Why do you think Mizzou students picked you?
HK: I think many students voted for us because of our previous leadership experience at Mizzou. Xavier and I have been involved in a wide variety of organizations on campus that give us a strong understanding of the needs and interests of our diverse student body. Our previous involvement also provides us with the knowledge and skills needed to best serve as leaders in MSA.  

HCM: How will you elevate Mizzou?
HK: The theme of our campaign was "elevate." We choose the word elevate because our mission is to build upon the success of current MSA programs and see what we can do to improve, or elevate, the typical Mizzou student experience. Our platform had three main parts: elevate through efficiency, elevate through unity, and elevate through general improvements. Xavier and I plan to elevate Mizzou by carrying out the ideas we expressed in our platform. These ideas range from big tasks like improving recycling in the residence halls to smaller things like putting a Redbox in the Student Center.

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HCM: What's the first task you will complete in your new position?
HK: Although we will not officially take on the roles of president and vice president until next semester, Xavier and I have already begun the process of selecting our cabinet. I have also started attending budget meetings and Student Fee Review Committee meetings to better educate myself on budget issues, so I will be ready to prepare next year's MSA budget of $1.4 million as soon as I take office in the spring.

HCM: Why were elections postponed?
HK: The Board of Elections Commission postponed announcing the results of the election for about 24 hours due to a pending investigation. They announced the results on Thursday evening instead of Wednesday evening as originally planned.

HCM: Was there anything found during the investigation?
HK: The purpose of the investigation and its results were never revealed to the candidates or made public.

HCM: What's the biggest thing you hope to accomplish in your new position?
HK: One of our biggest goals during our term is to hold the first annual OneMizzou week this spring. We are very passionate about diversity and believe developing OneMizzou is the best way to help encourage diversity and tolerance at Mizzou. OneMizzou week will be the result of a collaboration between MSA and all diversity organizations on campus. We want to work with the Diversity Peer Educators in the Multicultural Center to bring diversity programing into classes, FIGs and organizations. We also want to bring guest speakers and a concert to campus during OneMizzou week.

HCM: What's your favorite part of MSA?
HK: My favorite part of MSA is the people. Despite the fact that I have only been a part of MSA for a short time, I have felt extremely welcome in the organization. The people involved in MSA work very hard and love what they do.

HCM: How will you inform students about what happens with MSA?
HK: One of the biggest challenges with MSA is that as a whole the organization is most visible to the student body during election season. I am extremely happy that a record number of students voted in this year's presidential election, but I do not think it is acceptable for MSA to fade into the background now that elections are over. I have been working with the MSA Outreach committee this semester and will continue working with them throughout my term to educate students and organizations about MSA activities and ways in which their student government can serve them. The Outreach committee's grassroots approach to spreading the word about MSA has proven to be effective, and I will continue to be a part of these efforts.

HCM: Is there anything else you want students at Mizzou to know?
HK: I want Mizzou students to know how excited Xavier and I are to do this job and how thankful we are to have the opportunity to serve students in this way. We have set very ambitious goals for ourselves, but we also have the energy, passion and know-how to accomplish them. We want Mizzou students to feel comfortable approaching us with their concerns and suggestions.

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