Junior Student-Trustee Samari Brown ’24 and Jesse Whelan-Small ’24 have quite a presence around the HWS campus. Jesse can be seen giving tours to prospective students, but while not on campus, he was in Washington D.C. as a Legislative Intern for Congressman Donald M. Payne, Jr (NJ-10) this past summer. Samari’s talent in theater, self-expression, and innovative thinking is at the forefront of her personality. Samari conducted an internship with HWS Theatre and Historic Geneva Society, titled “From the Beyond: Staging Geneva’s Unheard Voices.” Her work in civic leadership ties into encouraging students to practice their voting rights through HWS Votes. Samari, as well as Kate Equinozzi ’23, have shepherded a recent milestone in HWS being recognized as a recipient of ALL IN-Campus Democracy Challenge’s most engaged campus for college student voting.
As Junior Student-Trustees, Samari and Jesse sit alongside the current Senior Student Trustees Irini Konstantinou ’23 and Zaheer Bowen ’23. “It is truly a privilege to know, work with, and learn from them; they teach me so much about this school and my peers,” Konstantinou ’23 said. “Jesse and Samari have had a unique start to Student Trustee life given their start as we began to move out of COVID, so I think because of that they’ve been outstanding in demonstrating students’ needs moving forward,” Bowen ’23 said. Samari and Jesse currently don’t have voting power on the Board of Trustees, but they have a voice at the table.
The Herald asked them how it felt to be Student Trustees. “My peers trusted me to be in this position to speak on their behalf on their concerns and issues of our campus,” Brown ’24 said. Within her position as an impactful leader, she hopes to be the voice for those who may not be heard even though they might have a voice. Their role is to bridge the gap between the student community and the Board of Trustees and Administration.
With President Mark Gearan and his wife Mary Gearan back home here at HWS, Samari and Jesse are excited to get to work on developing a community following the pandemic. “Our campus is very sectioned, we call ourselves HWS community, but are we really? I want to make sure everybody feels included in the spaces,” Brown ’24 said.
Jesse hopes the campus is more accessible, “Whether that be activities, buildings, classrooms.” Adding, “that’s something that’s at the forefront of my mind right now. I’m working on that. So, all this to say, we are prepared to talk about these issues, acknowledge them, and share them with the board,” Whelan-Small said.
They hope to tackle food quality, accessibility, and insecurity on campus. Jesse elaborates, “not everyone can just order food and pay for that—so I see this as an issue for students who don’t have that luxury just to be able to get food when they want,” Whelan-Small ’24 said. “I think there is a kind of a real room for some new direction we could take on food.
Samari hails from Rochester, New York, with a double major in English and Sociology with a minor in Theatre. She is a Civic Leader for HWS Votes, and currently works as an Office Assistant at the William Smith Dean’s Office. Jesse is from Maplewood, New Jersey, majoring in Economics and International Relations. He served as class president for two years and was a research assistant in the Sociology Department. He is currently an active member of HWS Debate team, the Kappa Alpha Fraternity, and as a tour guide for Office of Admissions.
The Herald is looking forward to progress Samari, Jesse, and the Board of Trustees hoping to achieve.