Junior Leslie Macias became involved with M.E.Ch.A, a national student organization based around Chicano culture and student activism, during her freshman year when her TRIO mentor was club president. At the time, the club was heavily focused on the sanctuary campus movement.
“It was like hitting really close to home and to my identity. I felt like it was something I would be really interested in doing and pursuing at Knox,” she said.
Macias has enjoyed getting to be involved in activism through the club, with opportunities such as participating in a march during a trip with the club to a national meeting in Los Angeles.
“It was very emotional and very like something I’ve always wanted to do, but I feel I haven’t really been able to do much in my life because of being a daughter of an immigrant,” Macias said. “[My mom]’s always fearful of me doing more activist kind of outward things.”
Macias has now been elected as co-president of the campus organization, serving alongside sophomore Natalie Juarez. As co-president, Macias hopes to help update the image M.E.Ch.A has on campus.
“We’re trying to move on to something more exclusive where it’s not just Chicanx or Latinx people,” Macias said. “[We’re] just open to everyone, just like a space for people to feel like they can talk about social justice issues or just culture or just have a place to feel like family.”
Sophomores Matt Cagle and Simone Boyd have been elected as co-presidents of Improv club, a chance that excites Boyd as it is her first time in a leadership position. Boyd spoke about her hopes for the club during its election process, when nominees had to give speeches.
“A goal of mine was to continue to make it as fun as impossible. Improv is a very open club, anybody can join and be a member and be in a show,” she said.
In their transition into leadership roles, Boyd has been concerned about being able to say no to people, while Cagle has worried about managing his relationships with his fellow members.
“A lot of us in Improv are friends, we know each other’s names, we hang out. But you also have this professional relationship now,” Cagle said. “I’d be concerned that I would somehow taint the relationship I have with these people as friends by some act.”
Before being elected, Macias had already been serving as part of the club’s exec team as chair of alumni relation. While now she has moved into a primary leadership position, she noted that M.E.Ch.A’s exec aims for all its members to have equal status.
“Everyone does everything together, all decisions are made together. So even though I’m president this year, it doesn’t really change my value or importance in the club,” she said.
Macias hopes to act as a leader in a way that maintains the sense that every group member’s opinion will be heard, and lean on her fellow exec members when the responsibilities of the position start to overwhelm her.
“If things are too much for me, I’m just like ‘let me just push through,’ and then I get more stressed. That just perpetuates that,” Macias said. “…I’m going to try really hard to communicate with my exec and express when I feel any nervousness or fear.”
Boyd and Cagle have been helped by the current presidents in their transition to leadership. They received experience when they led the club’s performance at the Earth Day Festival, a difficult venue due to being outdoors.
“I think it helped us prepare… our rehearsals are nothing compared to that,” Cagle said. “… There’s a tinge of nervousness I think, but we’re improvisers. We’re used to it.”