Student government leaders dedicated to serving

Oct. 23, 2009

Student Body President Jordan Hannah

He sits behind his polished oak desk, hidden underneath resolutions, proposals and papers requiring his signature, in a public office where he works fervently for Baylor. This is the life of public service he was called to. Who is Baylor's student body president? The concerns of more than 14,000 undergraduate students lie in the hands of senior political science major Jordan Hannah.

Hannah was born and raised in Cleburne, 43 miles outside of Dallas. In a small town of 30,000 people, Hannah spent his early life in the public eye, as his father was a member of the city council of Cleburne. It is from his father's political career that Hannah learned the hardships and rewards associated with public service.

In eighth grade, Hannah became involved in the student council and continued active participation in it throughout high school, learning the balance between service and self.

Hannah said Baylor wasn't his first choice, yet after prayer he knew it was where he needed to spend his college career.

With the school pinned down and the acceptance letter in hand, finances brought forth a new obstacle.

Although Hannah was excited he was accepted, he soon realized how expensive Baylor actually is.

Through his academic achievements, Hannah received scholarships and worked with the community and Baylor to ensure local and university financial support.

Hannah arrived at the entrance of Penland Residence Hall, greeted by the eternally smiling faces of the move-in crew and began his four years as a Bear.

"Freshman year was great. I got outside of the bubble of my usual friends," Hannah said. "Everyone had to make new friends and I really got to know who I was and who I wanted to surround myself (with)."

Like other college students, Hannah discovered the Baylor traditions, the everyday fight for parking and more about himself.

As sophomore year approached, Hannah again felt a calling to become involved in student affairs as the sophomore class president. Once Hannah won the office position, he came to find out that the presidential position came with a lot more than a big office.

"I really had a struggle with commitments, as far as my commitments to organizations," Hannah said. "I needed to figure out where my priorities were and how I wanted to spend my time. Of those priorities I had been making, where did my strength, talents and passions fit into that?"

Feeling as though he had found a place where he was pro-actively used, Hannah became junior class president and as a senior he is student body president.

"I really found this opportunity to use my gift of leadership for the betterment of a greater number of people for the greater good," Hannah said. A quarter of the way into the school year, Hannah has encountered issues that have questioned his integrity and caused him to become a stronger person.

"Wondering if people really trust that you're in this position to serve them is hard. Hopefully people trust you to make decisions on behalf of them," Hannah said. "Leadership positions don't always come with respect and trust. You have to build that."

After college, Hannah hopes to attend graduate school and further study higher education administration.



External Vice President Emily Saultz

At home, in Amarillo, she is the eldest of four sisters and a former national spelling bee contender. At Baylor, she is a business fellows and economics double major with a minor in chemistry and the eternally smiling face of student government. In Waco, she collects box tops for J.H. Hines elementary and works with city officials to help restore the downtown area.

External Vice President Emily Saultz has always been busy, but her hectic schedule is focused on what she said she has always loved doing: serving others.

"I ran for this position because I love student government and the chance to make a difference in our community," Saultz said.

A self-described "nerd" at Amarillo High school, where she was salutatorian of her class, Saultz found her niche in student council. She said she loved being involved with her school and helping out with activities from food drives to planning prom.

Saultz also sang in her high school and church choirs, though music wasn't her strong point.

"I'm not very musically gifted, but I sure tried hard," Saultz said. "Story of my life, I sure tried."

That "can-do" attitude was also on display in the third grade, when losing a spelling bee fired her competitive spirit. With hard work and her mother's help studying, she eventually made it to the national spelling bee in Washington D.C. as an eighth grader.

"I didn't make it to TV I wasn't that good," Saultz said. "But it was really fun and an interesting part of my childhood."

Saultz said she remains an academic geek and is proud of it.

"Honestly, I can't help it," she said. "I love academics and I've always loved to learn. I think I used to be shy about it in high school. I mean I didn't want people to think I was nerdy, but I don't hide it now. I like studying."

Saultz wasn't thinking about attending Baylor until a friend said it would be perfect for her. So, she and her mother decided to visit.

"We went and I loved it," she said. "I just fell in love with the campus and went to the Web site, where I found the student government page and the position of external vice president, and was like 'I want to do that.'"

A few weeks later, Saultz was accepted to Baylor and began her pursuit of becoming a doctor.

"I have always wanted to be a doctor," she said. "I love the human body and think it is fascinating to learn about all the tiny cells and how everything works. I leave class every day in awe of God."

With a love of economics as well, Saultz decided to major in business fellows and economics, and a minor in chemistry.

Saultz said she ran for freshman class vice president because she figured it was where she would fit in best. She continued to run for office as a sophomore and became president. But, she didn't lose her love for academics as she joined honor societies, worked internships and shadowed doctors.

Saultz said she doesn't know whether she wants to work with geriatrics or pediatrics, but she is interested in both because she believes children and the elderly just need someone to listen to them.

"They can't always communicate well, but they are trying to tell you what is wrong," Saultz said.

Already this year, Saultz has kept busy working for better communication between the city and Baylor, her Welcome to Waco campaign and the students involvement with the city's downtown revitalization plan, Imagine Waco.

"This job is a blessing and a dream come true," Saultz said.

Saultz plans to attend medical school after graduation and one day work in an underserved area, providing health care at lower costs.



Internal Vice President Michael Wright

Surrounded by Student Senate binders, a copy of Roberts Rules of Order and a quick lunch of to-go sushi, Michael Wright has plenty of office work to do before he can concentrate on class work. As the student body's internal vice president, the Houston junior presides over Student Senate and helps with students' needs.

He does this while maneuvering through a double major of business fellows and economics with a concentration in pre-med. Wright says it is passion that makes him take on such huge responsibilities.

"I just had this love for Baylor right when I came on the tour and knew that I wanted to try and make a difference and leave Baylor better than I found it," Wright said.

He hopes to attend medical school and open a practice in orthopedics or sports medicine.

Service is nothing new for Wright.

Inspired by his older brother's work, Wright achieved scouting's highest level, Eagle Scout, with the same troop at age 18, after planning and executing a large service project.

The Boy Scout injunction to "be prepared" proved to serve Wright well. As a sixth-grader, he had to leave his friends behind and adapt to a new culture when his father was transferred to London, only to return to the United States a year later.

"The instability was difficult," Wright said. "But it taught me to be flexible and roll with whatever comes at me."

Back in the United States, he attended junior high at an Episcopalian school before transferring to a large public high school, Memorial High School.

"It was strange to be surrounded by a Christian environment and Christian people, and then to attend high school where other people didn't always have the same beliefs as I did," he said. As a senior, Wright's college prospects ranged from Georgetown to Southern Methodist University until his parents suggested a visit to Baylor.

"We came up here and took a tour, and I instantly fell in love with the campus and the whole atmosphere," Wright said.

As a freshman, Wright quickly became involved in intramurals and student government. After serving in the Student Senate as a freshman and sophomore, he was elected internal vice president last spring. Wright said he's enjoying the challenge.

"The first few weeks it was strange being on the other side of the room and conducting the meeting," Wright said. "I was nervous at first, but everyone in Senate has a lot of respect for each other."

He said his top priority is the student body, which he is the only reason the senate exists.

"We need to continue to make sure that we are serving students instead of serving ourselves," Wright said.