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Photo Courtesy of Zak Myers and Kristina Lawrence

From Hurdled to Hopeful: Meet Student Government Candidate Kristina Lawrence

Kristina Lawrence, coffee in hand and wearing the most adorable blue top I’ve ever seen, sat at a table on the second floor of the Student Union. With her textbooks and laptop laid out in front of her, she gleamed a bright smile toward everyone who strutted past her.  Kristina was one of the first people I came across at UCF, and she continues to be one of the friendliest faces I’ve met thus far.

Perhaps her kind demeanor stems from her unique background. Born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida, Kristina was raised in a loving Carribean household to which she attributes much of her successes, having helped her to embrace her individualistic qualities and maintain a sense of inquisitive yearning.

“You’ll never be able to get into UCF.”

Such yearning inspired her to visit UCF for a college tour during her senior year of high school.  While on the tour, Kristina knew she had found her heart in the place we all call home. However, she quickly realized the harshness that can exist in the words of others when her guidance counselor claimed: “You’ll never be able to get into UCF.”  At the time, her counselor’s words stood true, and Kristina received an un-manifested denial letter from 4000 Central Florida Boulevard.

Her resilience and never-give-up attitude prevailed, however, and according to Kristina, “It became clear that if I wanted to change my life for the best, I’d need to make a continuous effort to build myself with or without those who didn’t contribute to my success.” 

Kristina went on to receive — earn, rather — her AA from Valencia College during a revelating time in which she began to discover her true potential. Though she went through on-and-off relationships and even contemplated dropping out (like we all have at least once), Kristina became an honors student, worked a job to help offset educational expenses and went on to attend the school she never lost sight of.

In her time at UCF, Kristina’s passion for helping others was radiantly exemplified. Not only did she become the Marketing and PR Coordinator for Knights of the Round Table (which, I should add, won Agency of the Year), but she also became a Student Government Senator for the Nicholson School of Communication and Media, where she was able to advocate for the best interests of the student body. 

While she graduated with her Bachelor’s degree last year, Kristina remains at UCF in pursuit of her MA in Communications. According to Kristina, while she’s constantly working to improve interactions with all her counterparts, she “find[s] it especially important to approach different positions of leadership and exemplification with a strong sense of femininity.” 

With that mindset, Kristina now finds herself as a candidate to be Student Government’s next Vice President, alongside running mate James Zachary “Zak” Myers.

“I know we will face setbacks.”

When asked why she decided to run, Kristina said: “For me, running was an opportunity to cultivate my experiences, recognize my strength and understand how important being a representative for over 70,000 students truly is.” 

Advocating for 70,000 students is indeed a big task, which is why Zak and Kristina have built a platform based off of respect, inclusivity, safety and genuine servant leadership under the motto ‘Your Future. Our Fight.’ “I know we will face setbacks,” says Kristina “but I affirm my position on working for the Women of Color, Graduate Students, LGBTQ+ Students and Allies, Generational Tie Breakers, Lettered affiliates and the thousands of members from many more communities which create the fabric of our campus.”

Through all the hurdles Kristina has found herself in throughout her 22 years of life, her desire and passion to continue forth on her journey is remarkably awe-inspiring and encourages many to remain hopeful. Whether it’s overcoming rejection or possessing the desire to stand up for those who are otherwise stood on, Kristina is a graceful reminder that through perseverance and dedication, we can all achieve what we set out to do.

In my time of having the privilege to know her, I can honestly say thank you, Kristina, for being such a light in the lives of everyone you meet.

Remember to vote in UCF’s upcoming Student Government election from March 2-4!  For more information on Zak and Kristina, visit their website.

Emma is a senior at the University of Central Florida studying Anthropology and History. When she's not writing articles, she enjoys long-distance running, iced chai tea lattes , and advocating for students as a Senator for Student Government.
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