Student Body President of the Year Final Four

We received dozens of terrific nominations for our newly announced Campus Legacy Awards and had a remarkable inaugural class of Student Body President of the Year candidates. With more than 125 votes cast, we are thrilled to announce the top four vote-getters. Before we announce the winner at the awards luncheon on June 5th, we wanted you to get to know these incredible student leaders.

The Student Body President of the Year award recognizes an outgoing student body president who has made a resounding impact on his or her campus, exemplifying numerous tenets of strong leadership and demonstrates the power of student leadership.

Nagela Nukuna, Georgia Tech

Major: Industrial Engineering

Hometown: Hockessin, DE

What is your philosophy on leadership?

Leadership is a mindset; a system of principles that allows us to simultaneously grow individually and affect positive change in the world we live in. Leadership is empowering others, sharing the credit, being constituent-focused, and acknowledging others' work. It is about selflessness and putting the success of our community first.

What specific project or initiative will leave a lasting legacy on your campus?

Particularly in STEM-focused institutions, faculty-student relations tend to negatively contribute to student mental health, adding to to already increasing stressors. The CIOS (Course- Instruction Opinion Survey) plays a crucial role in this, as students fill out this survey to assess the effectiveness of professors every semester.

This year, we were able to:

1) obtain approval from faculty, staff, and administrators to release the numerical survey data to GT students, and

2) obtain conditional approval to release the free-form text comments to Dean & School Chairs (after a task-force reviews the method of how biased comments will be used in high-level decisions, like faculty tenure).


Rachel Zuckerman, University of Iowa

Major: Political Science and Journalism and Mass Communication

Hometown: Livonia, Michigan

What is your philosophy on leadership?

A leader is someone who demonstrates what is possible. They encourage their team to go the extra mile to accomplish what has never been done before. They do this by leading by example—they translate vision into reality by working the hardest, tackling the most challenging issues, and fully committing to everything they do.

What specific project or initiative will leave a lasting legacy on your campus?

We led an unprecedented effort to give the UI’s four Cultural and Resource Centers the attention and resources that they deserve. We organized four “community discussions” between our university president, student government leaders, and the communities that use each Center to discuss the Centers and overall university climate toward diversity. These conversations, in conjunction with persistent advocacy, led to $200,000 in investments into the Centers, and there are serious ongoing talks about future multi-million dollar investments.  

Gerard Basalla, The Ohio State University

Major: Political Science and Strategic Communication

Hometown: Parma, Ohio

What is your philosophy on leadership?

Leadership should be selfless and forward thinking. Being a servant leader means being the first one in the room and the last one to leave. At the core of leadership must be the idea that any group of people can change the world through teamwork and perseverance.

What specific project or initiative will leave a lasting legacy on your campus?

USG passed two resolutions through Ohio State’s University Senate. The first increased textbook affordability by saving students approximately $2.5 million in 2018. The second recommended the inclusion of a mental health statement on course syllabi. This was the first time students passed a resolution through University Senate since 1972.


Dylan John, Georgian Southern
Major: Applied Engineering

Hometown: Sri Lanka

What is your philosophy on leadership?

People are the pulse of my Leadership philosophy. I believe in communal leadership that promotes dialogue and generates new and fresh ideas. I pursue this by empowering those around me to do more through their individual and unique passions to serve. This has been a success in my leadership role.

What specific project or initiative will leave a lasting legacy on your campus?

SGA Vision 20/20, a statewide framework for ranking student concerns and equipping Student Governments in the State of Georgia, is my legacy. SGA Vision 20/20 is a sustainable model to communicate hot button issues to administrators and policy makers while enabling Student Governments to develop strategies for advocacy.

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