Roya Naghepour: Anticipating the Chance to IGNITE Change on UGA's Campus

Roya Naghepour is a name that most students are becoming familiar with around campus since she is running on the IGNITE executive ticket for the Student Government Association. Naghepour, a sophomore, is hoping to become SGA’s next Vice President and begin working towards her executive ticket’s platform encompassing safety, affordability and everyday life on the University of Georgia’s campus. As a woman of color, she hopes to be a role model for other women who also desire to become leaders in their respective communities. Naghepour is eagerly anticipating the chance for her entire ticket to facilitate change on UGA’s campus. Her drive and her voice are sure to help her be a person who leaves a lasting impact. Take a few moments to learn more about Roya Naghepour. Get to know part of her story:

Who else is involved on your ticket, and what is the overall platform?

I am running for vice president on the IGNITE executive ticket with Cameron Keen for president and Kal Golde for treasurer. Cameron is a junior and is currently the Director of Government Relations for SGA and is also a member of the Arch Society. Kal is a junior and is currently Editor in Chief of the Georgia Political Review. I am currently a sophomore and an active member of SGA as the senator for the School of Public and International Affairs in addition to the Team Relations Chair on the UGA Relay For Life Executive Board. Together, we have created a platform that I am so proud of. Our platform encompasses three main points: safety, affordability and everyday life.

SAFETY

  • Streamline protections and awareness for sexual assault and mental wellness

  • Promote inclusion for students who are members of underrepresented groups

  • Strengthen campus safety by enhancing lighting for pedestrian areas and ensuring late-night transportation is safe and effective

AFFORDABILITY

  • Increase open educational resources to lower the price of textbooks

  • Work with administration to diminish or re-apportion the Special Institutional Fee

EVERYDAY LIFE

  • Develop relationships with Athens businesses in order to create more local job and internship opportunities for students

  • Aid students in navigating parking applications to maximize their chances of being awarded a parking spot

  • Continue work with the Office of Sustainability to improve university buildings and facilities

  • Help campus organizations with funding, room reservations, and by increasing collaboration and communication between student groups

Why did you choose to run on an SGA Executive Ticket?

I chose to run on an SGA Executive Ticket because I wanted to serve the students and with my past experience within the organization in senate, I wanted to be able to guide senators on how they can best utilize their position to listen to students and properly advocate for them. I wanted to be someone that is not only listening but serving and doing the real work that students care about, and I don’t think there is an organization better equipped for the job.

How does it feel to be running for a prominent position within SGA as a woman?

It feels incredible to be running for this position. I think it’s important to have women, and women of color, in prominent positions in student government to show other women that they can be there too. I believe if young women see each other taking on these challenges and taking on these significant roles in government or in their respective career fields then it can make reaching those goals feel more doable, more real for each other. I know I’ve been inspired by seeing other women in positions of power; it made me realize I can work for it and get there too. The idea of providing that inspiration for someone else is really meaningful to me. Lastly, I would tell them not to accept what people define a woman as and to always speak out against preconceived notions and stereotypes.

What advice do you have for women who desire to serve in leadership positions?

Do not allow anyone to make you feel inferior for being a woman. You will encounter people who will try to discount your ideas and your work because of your gender, and you cannot allow yourself to slow down or stop the hard work you’re doing because of that. Women offer a different perspective, one that is often underrepresented, so we are vital to our government and to companies, and law firms, writer’s rooms, doctor’s offices, to all venues because of it. I would also say it’s important to always take the chance to do something you’re interested in, regardless of who the competition is. View being a woman as a strength, not a weakness. That looks different for everyone, but I think it’s vital for women who are pursuing leadership positions.

Who has been an inspiration to you recently or throughout your life? Did they play a role in your decision to run on an SGA Executive Ticket, and if so how?

My mom has been my inspiration throughout my entire life and especially during the election so far. It sounds cheesy, but I promise she is no ordinary mom. My family is from Iran, and I am actually the first member of my entire family to be born in the United States. My mother has a different background, having grown up in a non-muslim family in post-revolution Iran. My mom was denied freedoms at a young age of which I cannot even fathom the thought. As an elementary school student, my mom was given a desk in front of all of her classmates to sit in because she was a non-muslim student. She was not allowed to speak to the other students unless spoken to first. As she graduated high school, my mom was then denied the right to pursue any type of higher education, and as a woman in this country, she was almost required to be accompanied by a man at all times when in public. My mother then married my father and moved to the United States where, after having two children and learning an entire new language and lifestyle, she came to open a flower shop. She knew nothing about flowers but learned more in those years than she imagined. Throughout the years my mom became a woman that owned a flower shop, was a mortgage consultant, then a realtor and now an insurance broker. She was divorced, was a single mom and is now remarried. My mom never stopped even though there were many roadblocks. My mom never let me think that I was less than my brother, my mom never made me pour a cup of tea for my brother, like she had for her four brothers. My mom came to Atlanta as a refugee in 1996 with the help of the United Nations and did not speak a word of English. Today, my mom owns her own insurance company. Today, my mom still fights the adversity she has experienced as a woman throughout her life. Throughout the election, I have remembered my mom, and I have remembered our flower shop.

What excites you most about running and the possibility of serving in this position?

The honor of being the voice of the student body is the most exciting thing about the possibility of taking on this position. The process of running itself has been so much fun, but I’m excited for the chance to facilitate conversations between administration and the students. Additionally, my experience in senate has influenced my interest in reforming certain internal procedures of SGA to ensure that the organization is serving the students most efficiently.

What other organizations are you involved in on campus?

This year, I am on the executive board of UGA Relay For Life as Team Relations Chair. Through SGA, I was given the opportunity to serve as a voting member and student representative of University Council. I am also a member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority and served as their parking chair last year. I have served as a Shop With A Bulldawg mentor for two years now. I am also the student representative on the Student Tech Fee Advisory Committee.

What do you appreciate most about the UGA community?

The tradition and genuine passion that the students have is a constant source of inspiration for me. The opportunities for growth and development beyond the classroom are abundant. I have been able to plug into many different communities and organizations of all sorts, and those experiences have informed my academic studies and allowed me to explore real world applications of my educational pursuits.

What is one thing that has had an impact on you while at UGA?

The amazing faculty has been beneficial to my growth, specifically having female role models within my field, like Dr. Audrey Haynes. These amazing women and men have served as role models and confidants throughout everything small and large that I have had the opportunity to embark on. Additionally, learning from my peers in many different types of organizations on campus has allowed me to hear and absorb different perspectives of all students.

What is your favorite study spot (on or off campus)?

I love studying in the 3D lab at Lamar Dodd over on East Campus. It is a very inviting atmosphere, and it is motivational to think that it is possible to create something out of nothing.

What is your favorite restaurant in Athens?

The Place for Sunday Brunch! Get the eggs benedict with the tomato gravy, and do not pass on the fried okra.

What would you consider your dream job to be?

Serving the community in some capacity, whether that is at a local, national or global level would be my dream job. I had tons of fun in Washington, D.C., last summer as a part of Grady at D.C., so ideally, something in our nation’s capitol would be fantastic. Delta Hall was the start of my journey as a female leader; I was inspired by the friendship and support of my peers as well as the fantastic female leaders at Scott Circle.

Is there a quote you live by or feel motivated by when you read or hear it? If so, what is it, and why is it so significant?

“If not today, then when?”

I know that UGA needs an executive board in SGA that will represent them in the best way possible and to get real work done for them. When I was asked by Cameron to be Vice President on the ticket, I jumped at the chance. I knew that working with Cameron meant getting that real work done. I know that if I didn’t take that leap right then, I would be missing out on an opportunity to make a real change on this campus. Running for office is one of the biggest decision I have ever made, and I am so proud of myself for taking this step to represent the student body.

Be sure to get involved and vote! Voting begins on Monday, March 20, 2017 through Wednesday, March 22, 2017. Voting will take place here. Best of luck to IGNITE!

Happy voting!