Representing the students
UI sophomore Hannah Walsh is the new member of the Board of Regents, State of Iowa
Hannah Walsh credits a lot of where she’s at today to good fortune and timing.
The University of Iowa sophomore from Spirit Lake, Iowa, was appointed in November to the Board of Regents, State of Iowa, by Gov. Terry Branstad.
Walsh is the lone student member on the nine-member board. According to Iowa Code, one member of the board must be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student at one of the regents universities at the time of his or her appointment. The UI, Iowa State University, and the University of Northern Iowa rotate student member terms.
“My appointment as the student member of the Board of Regents was all about timing,” says Walsh, a political science major in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “Of all the schools I could have chosen, I chose a regents school in Iowa, and of the three regents institutions, I just happened to be at the University of Iowa at the right time.”
“I want to hear what students have to say, because all students are directly impacted by legislators’ decisions.”
But Walsh’s appointment also has to do with a long interest in politics and leadership, and lots of hard work. Walsh says her father has been involved with the Iowa political scene her whole life, and he often took her and her siblings to campaign events and to meet state and local politicians. During her senior year of high school, Walsh served as a page in the Iowa Senate.
“My experience as a page clarified for me that politics was exactly what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, especially at the state level,” she says. “Prior to that I was more interested in federal politics, but after being a page, I realized that state politics are very important.”
Walsh has continued to pursue her passion for politics and leadership as a UI student. During her freshman year, she served as a senator for UI Student Government (UISG), representing 4,500 first-year students. She was also one of 30 first-year students selected to participate in the President’s Leadership Class, a three-hour course that gives students the opportunity to explore leadership issues with UI President Sally Mason. This year, prior to her appointment as the new student regent, Walsh served as co-chair of the UISG Government Relations Committee and was on the UI College Republicans Executive Committee.
“I got to know Hannah as a student in the President’s Leadership Class that I teach,” says Mason. “She exhibited outstanding leadership potential and proved to be a smart, thoughtful, engaged, and enthusiastic student. All of these skills will serve her well as a regent.”
Walsh will serve on the board as a student member until April 30, 2015, right before her graduation as an undergraduate from the UI. During her term, one of the main issues she hopes to address is the cost of attending the three state universities, student debt, and helping students graduate on time.
“Debt isn’t one problem that is easily solved. Many other issues tie into this and must be addressed,” Walsh says. “I have a couple of different ideas of how we can begin to work on getting students out of college with the smallest amount of debt possible.”
Walsh wants to represent the students of the three universities as best she can and wants to communicate with students—whether that is by email, phone, or stopping by her on-campus office in the Iowa Memorial Union.
“I want to hear what students have to say, because all students are directly impacted by legislators’ decisions,” she says. “It’s such an honor that I get to represent the students of the Iowa regents institutions.”