Western Herald – WMYou: Two first generation college students explain their climb to leadership positions

WMYou: Two first generation college students explain their climb to leadership positions

Christina Cantero
News Reporter

Student leaders, first generation college students, friends, and high school bowling enthusiasts: Jasmine Neldon and Nick Spaleny have watched each other climb the ladder of leadership, and today they play huge parts in running two of Western’s largest student organizations.

WSA Speaker Jasmine Neldon and CAB President Nick Spaleney chat about their climb to leadership positions over their college career. Christina Cantero/Western Herald

Crammed in an office at the Student Organization Center (SOC), Neldon and Spaleny look back on years of commitment which have now brought Neldon to be Speaker at Western Student Association (WSA) and Spaleny as President of Campus Activities Board (CAB).

“I can’t see myself having the opportunities I have had here at WMU at another university. From the first semester we had the opportunity to get involved, right away,” said Neldon, who is serving her second year as Speaker in WSA.

Spaleny and Neldon met during Fall Welcome their freshman year, both attending as first generation college students.

“When I was a freshman I was a total introvert,” said Spaleny. “Now you can’t shut me up.”

Spaleny and Neldon are both in their last semester as student leaders at WMU with one final goal in mind: the Student Leader of the Year Award. Neldon was recently given the Student Leader of the Month Award for her work in WSA.

Western Herald: How do you feel like the position you have now will help you in the future?

Neldon: I have learned about patience and flexibility. These positions really try your emotions, especially when you are very passionate. I hope to be a lawyer someday, so it’s been a really good practice for me. Being able to think quickly on your feet and handle things as they come, are two life skills I will apply for the future.

Spaleny: Communication with students and advisors have taught me a lot, and time management, it’s like a part time job.

N: Part-time? I think it’s full-time!

S: It’s full time in our heads. Also, we spend more time in our organization than we would in a part-time job.

N: I would shake when I spoke in front of people. So public speaking have been hard for me. I also have to tell other people what to do, and being stern with people, which was challenging at first.

WH: What can you say to students that are intimidated by you, as student leaders?

N: We’re human. I have emotions, and I take the feelings and concerns of the senators very personally. I do this position because I sincerely care about the students and that they have a place to get their voice heard. I value their work.

WH: What were you involved in during High School?

S: I was on the Bowling Team.

N: So was I! I was the captain.

WH: How did you guys meet?

N: We were in the same Fall Welcome group for TRiO.

S: So since day one!

N: We have climbed the latter together. I think that the cool thing about our relationship this year is that we are working hard to make a bridge between our organizations. There’s sometimes a perceived competitiveness between WSA and CAB, it’s not as bad this year.

S: There is friendly competition between the two organizations, last year we had a “Facebook-Like” competition.

N: Cabbies were disliking our Facebook-page!

S: Yeah, Cabbies would start “unliking” WSA or something like that.

WH: Do you have any hidden talents?

N: In high school I was elected to be the third most likely to appear on broadway, so that’s funny.

S: I don’t have any hidden talents.

WH: What are some tips to other students who want to get involved?

N: Don’t be afraid to get involved. We get really excited to have freshmen involved, and have people understand what we do. And for those who aren’t freshmen, it’s never too late. Any student can come to WSA.

S: I would encourage any student to get involved. You just have to try. There are people who have been in CAB for two years, and I don’t know their names. And there are freshmen that I look at and think, these are the future leaders of CAB. They try to get to know us leaders. That’s how I got involved.

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One Comment to WMYou: Two first generation college students explain their climb to leadership positions
    • Greg
    • This is all so true! WMU is a great place to get involved and be successful. While I was at WMU I took every opportunity to get involved! Now that I am in a graduate program at MSU I am learning that other universities don’t have as many opportunities for students. Many of the students at MSU don’t even know the university’s president, nor have they seen her, other than at the homecoming parade.


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