Outgoing SGA president reflects on term

Ange Coustillac wouldn’t boast about her accomplishments or her legacy.

Instead she will leave her decisions and actions as Gannon University’s 2012-13 Student Government Association president speak for themselves.

“It’s not up to me to say, ‘I did this and I did that,’” Coustillac said. “If the students think I did a good job in my position, then that’s awesome and I really hope that they feel that way.

“But if I didn’t, I didn’t. I tried my best and that’s all that I could do.”

As SGA president, Coustillac had a full schedule in addition to finishing her degree in legal studies. She sat on the university’s Board of Trustees and pushed for the approval of the renovation of the Carneval Athletic Pavilion, unveiled the campus lighting project and voiced the rumbling student concern about restoring the crosswalk on Eighth Street.

As the only student member of the Board of Trustees, Coustillac said she felt the weight of speaking for the entire body when the CAP renovation was on the table at the February meeting.

“I said, ‘We need this,’” Coustillac said. “‘We need you to invest in our students and show that we’re not just a dollar sign to you.’”

The board then voted unanimously to approve the renovations. Coustillac said she was “excited” to hear of the approval and see the project advance to the bidding stage.

The Eighth Street crosswalk was an unanticipated matter, however.

“I didn’t expect the crosswalk to be such a huge issue, and I also didn’t realize the history behind it,” Coustillac said.

After some discussion, the administration decided not to reinstate the crosswalk. But Coustillac said its willingness to listen to the concerns of the students is what’s important.

“The students are extremely lucky because we do have a say, and they do listen to us,” she said.  “Every concern that we’ve had, I’ve taken to the administration and they’ve listened.

“Maybe not everything was able to be accomplished, maybe because of issues with the city or we don’t have the money for it right now, but they listen and they care.”

Through her tenure, Coustillac had countless opportunities to meet people and make connections. But her biggest mentor, she said, was Brian Nichols, Gannon’s vice president for student development and engagement.

“His understanding of people, his ability to read people and his interpersonal skills are fantastic,” Coustillac said. “I aspire to be more like that.

“I’m a very Type-A personality. I’m very task-oriented sometimes, but I also like to think big and dream big. If I think we can do it, I want to do it. Brian is a very relationship-driven leader. He establishes that trust right away. He’s a great listener. And he has this way of leading silently.”

Coustillac is planning on returning to Gannon in the fall to enroll in the Master of Business and Administration program. She said Nichols has already created a graduate assistantship for her in student development, specifically in the Travel Abroad and Leadership Studies programs.

Coustillac’s time as SGA president has “completely” changed her career track.

“Higher ed is in my future I think, and this experience is the only reason that that happened,” she said.

“When I came in, and part of it was Brian and being mentored by him and talking to him, but I really want to focus on student development and aiding in the transitional process that is your four years of college.”

Coustillac herself has even been a mentor to several members of her executive board, according to Vice President of Academic Affairs Luke King and Treasurer Taylor Shaffer.

“I’ve never really met a more motivated, determined female leader,” King said. “She found a love for Gannon’s campus and community, fought for presidency, and has had a great impact on all the students she has worked with.”

Shaffer agreed, using the word “great” to describe Coustillac’s leadership.

“Ange has truly made me the person I am today by helping me grow as an individual,” Shaffer said.

Coustillac described the role of SGA president as “a full-time job,” and she offered several tips to the three candidates campaigning to be her replacement.

“I think the biggest thing is focus on academics,” she said. “Don’t forget why you’re here; you’re a student first. But find time for yourself. It does get overwhelming and you do need an outlet.”

She also advised taking advantage of all the chances to make a first impression.

“You’re going to have the opportunity to network with lawyers and doctors and presidents and people you can’t even imagine meeting,” Coustillac said. “You’re going to sit down at a table and have dinner with them and have wonderful conversation with them. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there.”

Looking toward the end of the road has been “bittersweet,” according to Coustillac. She still has several SGA meetings left, but it was saddening to attend her last Board of Trustees meeting in February.

Finally, Coustillac wanted to thank everyone whom she worked with, from her “fantastic” executive board to the outspoken General Assembly.

“They never made it easy, which is good,” she said. “They questioned me when I needed to be and they defended the students’ opinions.

“I hope they enjoyed working with me; I enjoyed working with all of them. I just feel blessed to be a part of Gannon, a part of the community and to have had this opportunity.”

 

DAN KUBACKI

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