New Student Government Executives

Meet the new Student Government leaders

By Genesis Cosme

Meet the new Student Government leaders

By Genesis Cosme
Abigail Adeleke, Shirley Gelman, and Amanda Rodriguez come from all walks of campus life to bring a fresh perspective to the University of Miami's undergraduate Student Government

On April 7, Abigail Adeleke, the University of Miami’s Student Government President, Shirley Gelman, vice president, and Amanda Rodriguez, treasurer, joined their fellow executive cabinet members to take their oaths into office, marking the start of their term on the 2020-2021 student government executive board.

Student Government Inauguration 2020 Zoom video conference
The 2020-2021 Student Government Executive Board was sworn in to their new positions on April 7 via a Zoom video conference.

Although the organization’s annual inauguration typically takes place in-person and bring together peers, loved ones, faculty, and staff, this year’s ceremony occurred virtually on a Zoom video conference due to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the circumstances, the three recently elected leaders are using their downtime to prepare for their roles by meeting online with one another, evaluating their campaign platforms, and organizing their priorities.

“Our initiatives are certainly going to have to shift due to the pandemic,” Adeleke said. “As we come back to campus, a lot of the issues we tackle are going to be pandemic-focused, like addressing how to help students who are dealing with hardships.”

Although Adeleke and Rodriguez ran on the “All-In” ticket and Gelman on “Level Up,” they’ve aligned their stances across multiple campus concerns including consistent grading standards, creating a more accessible Student Government, examining ADA compliance, expanding food options, environmental initiatives, and more.

As the trio start their term during these uncertain times, they also make history as the first all-female Student Government executive board in University of Miami history. Coming from various aspects of student life, they provide valuable perspectives on the student experience and look forward to a positive, productive year.

Abigail Adeleke, president 

Journalism and psychology major from Chicago, IL 

Abigail Adeleke, president

Adeleke first became involved in Student Government after her decision to throw her hat in the ring and see where it led her.

“I made it a mission for myself to really step out of my comfort zone,” she said about her first year at the University when she wrote her name in for Stanford Residential College senator for fun and won.

This opportunity kickstarted her involvement in Student Government. She has since also been School of Communication senator, public relations chair, and speaker of the senate. As she transitions into her new role this semester where she leads a history-making team, Adeleke thinks of her peers and mentors who guided her through her various positions and motivated her to continue moving up in student government.

“There were strong leaders on Student Government who inspired me and encouraged me to stay,” she adds. “You never know the impact you may have on other student’s experiences, so representation is so important to me. It shows that anyone can be anything.” 

Shirley Gelman, vice president 

International finance, marketing and management major from St. Louis, MO

Shirley Gelman, vice president

Gelman is also a seasoned Student Government member having worked closely with the Freshman Leadership Council, UOutreach, and the Student Engagement Planning Agency as day-of-show chair. Her motivations come from helping students reach their full potential as leaders and, as vice president, she looks forward to establishing a presence as a mentor on the executive board.

“I love sharing advice and helping people,” she said. “I’ve had many different roles on campus and many mentors as well who I’ve learned so much from. The Freshman Leadership Council this year will be a big role I get to play next year because shaping first-year students into student leaders goes way beyond student government itself.”

As a big sister and vice president of membership for Delta Delta Delta and brother of professional fraternity, Alpha Kappa Psi, part of her campaign platform was to bring more student input and advocacy for Greek Life decisions. Greek Life represents about a third of the University’s student population, and now, a third of the Student Government executive board through Gelman.

“Greek Life means a lot to me because it has given me an amazing family on this campus,” she said. “I hope to give back to that community by always representing their needs and by being someone in Student Government that can and always will advocate for them.”

Amanda Rodriguez, treasurer

Business legal studies major and finance minor from Miami, FL 

Amanda Rodriguez, treasurer

While her position as treasurer comes as her first position within Student Government, Rodriguez is no stranger to being a campus leader. From her involvements like treasurer for Federacion de Estudiantes Cubanos, pledge educator and fundraising chair for the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, counselor for Camp Kesem, Orientation Fellow, and Great Start student leader, she hopes to bring a fresh perspective and more insight on the University experience through student organizations to student government.

“I know the difficulties student leaders have when not knowing what resources are available to them and how students that aren’t involved on campus would feel their concerns aren’t being addressed,” she said. “Many people don’t see the inner workings of student government. I got involved because I wanted to make a difference and to help students feel comfortable with something as little as walking into the office.”

Even in all the University changes due to coronavirus, Rodriguez maintains optimistic about the year ahead.

“It is unfortunate that we’ve lost the personable aspect of our transition, but Abi, Shirley, and I have bonded the last few weeks,” she said. “They’re fun to work with and talk to and countless girl nights on Zoom have brought us closer together. I’m honestly really excited.”