Sierra Scott: Senate President of SGA at UCF

When I first walked into Sierra Scott’s office, she looked as happy as the sunlight streaming through the window with a hint of clouds that imply the hard work she’s put in. She’s probably happy from the fact that she has recently been elected president of SGA’s Senate here at UCF. 

It was a surprise to me how quickly and readily Sierra responded when I asked her about an interview. When I think back to the interview, I’m less surprised now that I know how openly dedicated she is to the UCF student body. She made the time to talk to me because she truly wants to move UCF towards a better future, and she wanted to share just what her goals are for her time in office.

Q: Tell me about yourself.

Sierra Scott (SS): I’m a double major in political science and legal studies. I am currently the Senate President of Student Government. I am a graduate of the LEAD scholars academy.

Q: You were recently elected to be Senate President. How did you get to this point?

SS: I am a huge SGA fangirl. I wrote my UCF admissions essay on SGA. I was in the Senate Leadership Council as a freshman, then I got appointed to be Senator halfway through that before becoming the vice chair in one of six committees. Over the summer, I became deputy Pro Tempore of Legislative Affairs, then I ran for President Pro Tempore this past year, which is the Vice President of Senate basically. I ran for that this past year for the 50th session. This year I ran for Senate President once and lost in the 50th session. I took that time to work on myself, fix myself, and really think about why I cared so much about Senate. And then for the 51st session (which is what we’re in now), just a month or two ago, I ran for Senate President and I got it. 

Q: What is your role in office?

SS: We are in charge of a 19.1 million dollar budget overall, which is ginormous. We try and make sure that students are getting it back in many different ways. As a Senate, I think we have around 1.2 million dollars that we’re directly in charge of, and that’s what my job is: is to sign off on budget transfers and everything. There is so much free money as an RSO. That’s one of the biggest things that Senate does.

Q: What have you done in office that you are most proud of?

SS: For me, I have always been really big on culture changes. When I originally came into the Senate in the 49th session, which was about 3 years ago, it was very cold. We didn’t talk to the Registered Student Organizations (RSOs). Senators were very cold; they came in to do their job and they left. It wasn’t really anything big. I’ve been trying to push for a culture change where people are more friendly and open. We still have respect on the floor, we still keep our titles on the floor and follow our rituals very well. We started forming relationships with RSOs, we started actually trying to reach out to them and educate them on what kind of free money we could give them, what kind of resources SGA can offer for them. Overall, just making the Senate a better culture in general and having people be friends now because I believe if you know someone, you’ll know their story, and you’ll be able to understand how they think. With that, you’re going to be able to debate better on the floor and help the student body in more ways than you originally thought.

Q: What changes do you believe still need to be made?

SS: I try to be as friendly and as open as possible because I think it’s important that students understand what SGA does because there’s a lot of free money. There are free scantrons, of course, but there are so many services that SGA offers that a lot of students don’t know about. For me, it’s always really important to try and get people to be educated on that because I know the stigma of SGA is really bad here. Since I’ve been a freshman, I’ve always tried to change people’s perspectives of it. I understand that you can’t change everyone’s perspective, but you can always try and you can always educate people and bring communities together so that everyone can benefit from the money that we all pay into, the activities and service fees.

Q: What do you think SGA gives away that a lot of students aren’t aware of?

SS: There are parking appeals. If you get a parking ticket, you can appeal it, and the judicial branch oversees that. They can sometimes overturn it, depending on the situation. There are two different committees that we have: the Conference, Registration and Travel (CRT) committee, and then the Financial Allocations for Organizations (FAO) committee. Both of those give out free money to students. If you’re an individual and you want to go present research at a conference, you can get up to $400 to do that to either towards your registration, your plane tickets, or your hotel. You can get $200 to go to a competition. Those two committees, in particular, are the things that we really want students to know about because they are getting this free money and they’re getting opportunities to go to things that they normally wouldn’t get to go to. That’s what my philosophy has always been: having CRT and FAO be the things that might actually push someone to get to go and get that job or to go present their research and get discovered by some amazing law firm or engineering company. We’re always trying to give those opportunities and really stress the fact that UCF actually does see them for opportunity.

Q: What is your advice for anyone who wants to get involved in politics?

SS: As someone who wants to go into politics myself after I serve in the air force, I think it’s really important to listen to people and talk to people. Being in the Senate is a great way to get an idea of it. It’s not like politics at all, but it is a way of knowing who your constituents are and getting to know them. If you’re interested in doing SGA, you need to know how to talk to people, or you can learn. That’s okay too, but you need to know that you’re going to have to vote in a way that might conflict with your own personal ideas, but you know are going to benefit your students in your college or UCF as a whole. I think a lot of people like talking before they listen, and if you talk more than you listen you’re not going to advance yourself. You’re going to end up stagnant as a leader and you’re never going to do anything. 

Q: Is there anything else you want everyone to know?

SS: I want everyone to know that SGA is very open and we want everyone to come in if they have a question, if they want to meet someone in their college, they’re always welcome to come into the SGA office. Talk to someone at the front desk and they can send someone back. I’m always here too. We really do want the students to come to get their free money. We want as many students to have as many opportunities as possible. 

There’s a smile on Sierra's face as she gives me a hug and a piece of candy as I leave her office. As Senate President, she’s practicing what she preaches. She did have her door open for this interview, after all. For anyone that wants to see her, you can find her in the same office you get free scantrons at in the Student Union.