Erika for SGA? You tell me.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to run for Radio Department Senator for the Student Government of Columbia College Chicago. Three days ago, I couldn’t tell you why exactly I wanted to do this, but elections start tomorrow (April 24th,) and I think I’m ready to tell you why Columbia should vote for me, Erika Kooda.

1. I get stuff done
When I put my mind to something, I go to the ends of the earth to ensure it’s done, and it’s done to the best of my abilities. When I’m asked by my station at home (Northern Community Radio) to put a music show together, I like to make sure that it’s clean, smooth, and that the dropbox actually works to send it over. The other example I’ve got for you is my second job – I work at Chicago Kernel on State Street, and sometimes, we get pretty large orders. I was working the closing shift one night in February, and we had an order of about 250 ‘snack size’ bags of popcorn. Now, these are little-bitty teeny-tiny bags of popcorn, and it takes a little while to open/stuff/seal/clean/heat seal, but I made sure that I completed the entire order – with two minutes to spare before we started the closing work, too.

2. When I’ve got a goal, I tend to achieve it
I’m going to throw out two words that probably not many of you are familiar with. Those two words? Drum Corps. Drum corps is basically the highest level of marching band you can get to, and my junior year of high school, I realized that I wasn’t ready to be done performing in a marching ensemble. I decided in August of 2012 to audition for Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps. I bought the plane ticket myself, paid the fees, and got down to Georgia on the last weekend of November – after training almost non-stop for four months – all the hard work paid off, and I received a contract to march with Spirit for the 2013 season… and I did just that. I got to travel all around the country spinning with the Spirit of Atlanta Color Guard. (Warning: you’re going to hear a lot of that in this post, so just keep this in mind.)
Anyone can train for a 5k/10k/half marathon, but it takes a special person to be able to train for and complete an entire season of drum corps. It’s not only physically draining, but it puts a strain on your mental and emotional states, as well. I dreamed big, I worked my tail off, and I achieved. I’m very proud of that accomplishment, so if you’ve seen me around campus wearing a little necklace that looks like a Star Trek thing (my corps necklace,) or a jacket with a bunch of patches on it (my corps jacket,) now you know why. I pride myself in being associated with an organization that strides for – and achieves – greatness. Bringing this experience into SGA will be great for the radio department because there are so many kids in the radio department that have huge dreams and great ideas. If I’m able to represent those voices (…hee hee, get it? Voices? Radio? Oh my,) hopefully the radio department will be able to be more involved in the college at large – which is something I wish that was already occurring.

3. I’m hard working
I’m a full-time honor student at Columbia. Last semester, I had a GPA of 3.9, which got me a spot on the Dean’s List. This semester, I’m sticking with 16 credits (which is as many as you can enroll for at Columbia without having to pay extra fees,) and one of them is a very intense Honors Writing course. On top of that, I’m working part-time in the Radio Department in the office and in studio time, and I’m also working part-time at Chicago Kernel. Between those two jobs, I’m working anywhere between 30-40 hours a week. In addition to school and those part-time jobs, I’m the Associate Producer for a seasonal radio show back at home, and I’m producing the Watercooler Podcast for the TV Department. Somehow, I’m still finding time to hang out with friends, get my homework done, and explore the city (mostly going to concerts and record stores.) I guess I like to stay busy, but I also like working this hard. At the end of the day, when I get a minute to really listen to music on a record or to a segment from This American Life, I appreciate it a lot more than I would if I was only going to class. This will help me going into SGA because I’ve already learned how to budget my time between multiple things. I’ve learned the value of creating a school schedule so you can have time for every thing, and how important it is to budget that time when you’re not in class.

4. I’m a team player
Here comes the color guard thing again – in a marching unit, you start to see the group as a machine, and machine must be flawless. What you learn from that is actually really cool – that you’re a part of that machine. Through band, I was taught that you need to be willing to listen to other ways of doing things and to be willing to change your ways to benefit the group. I’ve learned that you can’t be too stubborn, or the group may suffer. How ever I learned that, it worked, because my high school color guard was undefeated my last two years of high school, and Spirit’s color guard was ranked 12th best in the world.

5. I’ve served on multiple committees 
In high school, I was the youth representative for my church on two committees – for VLM (Voyageurs Lutheran Ministry) and for the St. Andrew’s Transition Team. Even though I was only 16-17 years old, I was faced with decisions some adults couldn’t even make. I learned how to work with people, and how work as a professional, even if it’s a little intimidating. This puts me at an advantage going into SGA, because I’m already comfortable working with a large group. I already know the importance of being comfortable while working in that group, and I bring that experience to the table already.

6. I think things through before making large decisions
Unfortunately, I’ve been faced with some pretty big decisions in my personal life recently. I needed to pick between my two passions – radio and drum corps – on how to spend my summer of 2014. In the end, I’ve chosen radio, but I’d be lying if I said it was an easy decision. (I do believe it’s probably the best decision, but that’s not what we’re talking about right now.) While I was mulling that issue over, I talked to other people who I thought would have good insight for me. I made a pros and cons list. Making decisions is something I think I’ve gotten a lot better at in the past year, and I would love to bring those “skills” to the SGA team. I also think that I have a lot to learn in the decision-making area, and I think that learning in this environment would be a blessing for me.

7. I put others before myself
Even if I have “big news” to tell my room mates or friends, I always want to know how they are or how their day was before I tell them my bit. I have so many amazing friends who do amazing things, I don’t want to miss a second of any of it. Having this mindset is important when you’re representing a group of people, because you can’t be in it for your own personal gain. You need to be dedicated to who you’re representing, and I believe that I am dedicated. Sometimes, it feels like I live in the department – but I’m still loving every minute of it.

8. I work well under pressure
As I’ve stated before, I’ve got quite a bit of stuff going on. I constantly have deadlines that need to be met, projects to be polished, papers to be written, and emails to respond to. But somehow, I feel like I’m doing so much better this semester versus last semester, when I actually had time to go out and explore my new environment. When I’m under pressure, I’m much more focused versus not having a lot on my plate. I think that it takes a lot to be able to learn how you work on the hot seat, but I’m glad that I’ve started to learn how much I can sign up for, and do well at. Knowing my limits going in to SGA will be helpful, because I’ll be able to sign up for events with confidence. I’ll be able to follow through on anything I volunteer for, and I will do a darn good job on it.

9. I don’t think too highly of myself
This is a fault of mine, but I really don’t know how to take a compliment. Mostly because I don’t really think it’s true, but also because I’m not really “used to” anything like that. I’m more comfortable just doing my job well and celebrating with friends about the small victories. Drum corps taught me how to read how I fit into a situation – I learned my place, and I was forced to learn it quickly. If I’m elected for Radio Department Senator for SGA, it’s not going to go to my head. I’m not going to run around bragging about it, and I’m not going to rub it in my competitors faces. I may not know how to accept compliments, but I do know how to lose and I do know how to win. To be honest, this is kind of the hardest blog post I’ve ever had to write… (and no, that’s not because it’s the longest.)

10. It takes quite a bit to offend me
…And that’s probably because I don’t think too highly of myself. I guess I don’t really know what to say here besides that, but I think it’s an important trait to have when you’re ‘competing’ for a spot on a board like this. If I’m elected, I’m not going to be heartbroken if my ideas don’t go through. I’m going to go back, make the idea better, and then try again. Unless it really is a bad idea – then someone will hopefully tell me, and I’ll learn something. I like to look at everything as a learning experience, and I know how much I have left to learn, and I would love to learn more with SGA.

11. I’m just like you
Yeah, I’m nervous for the increase in tuition, and I’m hoping that I’ll get a couple more scholarships over the summer. I’m not at Columbia because my parents had me choose a college, and I found the coolest one. I’m here because Columbia has the program I want, nay, the program I need, and the networking opportunities are second to none. I’m just another student at this school, and because of that, I know the issues at hand that we need to deal with. I may have my eyes to the ground sometimes, or my earbuds in, but I know what’s going on in the school and in the city of Chicago, and I have ideas on how we can make changes – for the better.

12. I’ve got experience in the industry
This might seem like a weird thing to include on a government thing, but I’ve been doing radio for 13 years already. But I’m not including it just because it’s a long time to have been doing radio, but it’s where I was able to do it. I first started radio on my local radio station back in small-town (Grand Rapids,) Minnesota. Back then, the station was known as KAXE, and now, they’re both KAXE and KBXE, or Northern Community Radio for both. NCR is a member-run, public radio station. We’re not flashy, we’re genuine and authentic, and we run on a very tight budget. NCR has played a major role in shaping who I am today – from my music taste to the way that I approach big projects. Through all of my experiences there, I’ve learned a lot about human nature, and the power of having a wonderful product. Bringing this background into SGA is helpful because even though tuition is high to go to Columbia, it’s still not like we’re made of money. We need to stretch our dollar to as far as it can go – and hopefully that reaches at least from the film building to the 33 E Congress building, if you know what I mean.

13. I was raised in Northern Minnesota
This comes with three things: 1) the accent, 2) my love of hotdish, and 3) the classic “Minnesota Nice”. If something’s not going right or someone’s having a bad day, I feel as though I must make it better. If I can help someone or something, I need to. Minnesota Nice is actually defined on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “courteous, reserved, and mild-mannered,” which is pretty on-point. I guess this bullet point is just saying I’m nice, but I think that’s an important part of being a team player. (Disclaimer: and I’m not just throwing this on here for the fun of it – we’ve covered that I don’t think too much of myself, but some of the people I spent my summer with told me that I have the MN Nice traits, so there you go.)

14. I’m no politician
Before the idea of my participation in SGA had ever been brought to my attention, I never thought I’d be writing a blog post like this. I never thought that I would be asking one of my friends to help me with campaign posters, or even posting anything about “politics” on Facebook. So why am I here? Because I think that I can make a difference. I think that I can help the department, and I think that having a person for the job, not a politician, is essential. Which brings me to…

15. I genuinely care
I want to listen to what you want to do to make your experience at Columbia better. I want to hear how your day is and how classes are going. But most importantly, I want to make your experience be the best that it can possibly be, because you’re paying way too much money to not be having the time of your life at least almost all the time. If you vote for me for Radio Department Senator for SGA, and I win, you have an “open door” to come to with ideas and suggestions on how to make your experience the best that it can be.

To vote, you must have an Oasis ID for Columbia College Chicago. You’ll log onto Oasis (just click right here), go to the ‘Students’ tab, and it should be right there. Voting starts on April 25th, so head on over and vote! Thanks for sticking through this really long post – I promise I’ll have a regular-sized post before noon tomorrow on the concert I went to tonight, so stay tuned!

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Author: erikabunk

Raised in Northern Minnesota, Interdisciplinary major in Radio and Business & Entrepreneurship at Columbia College Chicago. Enjoys long runs on the lakefront path at dawn, public radio, and lefse covered in butter w/ cinnamon sugar. Spends too much time on Spotify, in search of the best record store in the world, and dreams of returning to Reykjavík.

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