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Meet the VP’s: Donatellia Austin

Don’t know what ASUW is or why you should vote? We sat down with both of the VP’s in the race this year to help you out. Voting starts today (April 18th) and goes through Wednesday (April 20th).

Major: Humanities & fine arts, with a minor in creative writing

Class standing: Sophomore

Hometown: Cheyenne, WY

Extracurricular Activities: Resident Assistant, SLCE, Animation

Length of Time in ASUW: 1 year as a Freshman Senator

Her Campus: So, to start off…what kinds of things are you interested in?

Donatellia Austin: “Animation and social justice. Ideally I’d like to combine the two.”

HC: What do you do during your free time?

DA: “Mostly volunteer. I also love foreign movies. Over the summer, every Friday, my mom and I would pick a different foreign movie. It was really fun, because I am really interested in diversity and culture.”

HC: Why did you choose UW?

DA: “I was actually homeschooled for 18 years. So when I got to the college age, I got a large amount of the Hathaway Scholarship. Also, the art program and creative writing classes are pretty amazing. I was inspired that every teacher in the department simultaneously creates art and teaches.”

HC: Why did you decide to run for VP?

DA: “It was kind of last minute. I always wanted to get involved in politics on campus, and Tyler and I kind of joked about it at first. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much I actually wanted to make a change on campus. We both are really passionate about that.”

HC: Tell us a little about your leadership experience, and why your experiences differentiate you from your competitors.

DA: “I have a lot of personal experiences with leadership, despite that I was homeschooled. I joined 4H when I was eight, and our chapter was very political and very formal. I remember really wanting to be president when I was ten. Once I made that happen, we were actually recognized as being the best 4H Club in Laramie County for three consecutive years. I was chosen to attend leadership conferences all over the country, including Atlanta and Washington D.C. Also, being a woman RA this last year, I have firsthand incident reports with sexual assault and I know how to deal with it, which is why it’s such a big part of the changes I want to make on campus. Also, in the 2014-2015 term, I was voted Freshman Senator of the Year.”

HC: I know you’re passionate about volunteering, through 4H. How does this contribute to your campaign?

DA: “I’m very passionate about 4H volunteering, especially since I have been doing it for a long time. Since starting college, I have also been very involved with SLCE and the Good Mule Institute. I am dedicated to being a servant to students and society, and people in general. I am really into good, deep, intentional service–now on a political scale.”

HC: How specifically will you make the changes, and serve the student body?

DA: “So once we get the legislation on the floor, it gains support from administration, where it becomes a bill and eventually a resolution. A resolution can go really far in admin with the board of trustees.”

HC: Do you have experience actually implementing legislations?

DA: “Yeah! I pushed for non-discrimination policy, which emphasized being more inclusive and accepting of people in the LGBTQ community. That passed in 2014-2015 school year.”

HC: I can tell that creativity plays a big role in your life. How does it also play a role in your political activism?

DA: “I was a facilitator of a women’s leadership conference in the Art Department. We had an art wall, where we posed questions and people could add on, color, and write whatever they wanted. I love performance art; I want to promote audience and artist participation. Also, being able to use resources efficiently on campus is paralleled in using art efficiently, which I am very passionate about.”

HC: Okay, so you’re the only girl running. How are you going to use this to your advantage?

DA: “I’m going to emphasize empowering people, especially girls to get involved, and to give a sh*t. There are a lot of strong women on campus and in the state, and I want them to know they can take any leadership they want, they just have to see that the limitations that society puts on us doesn’t have to limit our desires to achieve what we want. I want to show them what they’re capable of.”

HC: When I was a freshman, I didn’t even know I could get involved in student government at all. Are you going to change that?

DA: “As an RA, I have been to hall senates, and that’s the easiest way to know what is available in student government. But unless they have a friend who’s in ASUW, they don’t know what it is; or RSO’s are, really. This is a big concern. People need to know what resources are available! So I will get involved with the first-year students to make them more aware of their surroundings.”

HC: Tell me a little bit about your running mate.

DA: “It’s fun. We were both in freshman senate. He joined in Spring, and at that time I was the Procedures Chairwoman, and I handled appointments, elections, and interviews. Now, tyler is ex officio, so we see each other a lot.”

HC: Why should people vote?

DA: “ASUW is part of the student fees budget. Voting is making sure your money goes to the right place. We are pushing for issues that are pertinent to our generation of students, like transgender bathroom policies, consent training, budget increases…and more. I want to start the conversation, I want to encourage people to get involved and know what is going on.”

HC: Why should people vote for you and Tyler, specifically?

DA: “We are in the trenches. We are still going to be here when our policies will be in place. This matters to us beyond just the title.”

HC: Undoubtedly, as a politician, there will be bumps along the way. How do you deal with adversity?

DA: “I have a lot of experience overcoming adversity. I have struggled a lot with my economic identity, because I have been homeless, middle class, into poverty, and now lower-middle class. I also had an emotionally abusive father growing up. I’ve just realized you have to see the joy in life, and see the silver lining. I take care of myself by finding funny things in life every day, no matter what.”

Want some more info? Go to Meet The VP’s: Tyler Wolfgang 

Lauren is a senior at the University of Wyoming pursuing a degree in Marketing. She is the Founding Campus Correspondent of Her Campus at the University of Wyoming, and could not be more in love with her staff and the Her Campus community at large. This California native grew up playing on the beaches of San Diego; and loved the water so much that she is currently a captain of the Women's Swim & Dive Team at UW. She also currently serves as the Content & Copywriting Intern at Wyoming's fastest-growing startup, Bright Agrotech. She feels fortunate to be surrounded by incredible people every day of her busy life, and to live in a world where Ben & Jerry's Phish Food, dachshunds, naps and J.K. Rowling exist. In the future she hopes to land a career at a magazine (think Miranda Priestly, minus the Devil, double the Prada), and if you ask her who her favorite politician is, she will say Leslie Knope. If you'd like to see a few of her other favorite things, be sure to follow her personal Instagram account, @lauren_isabelle.
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