UPUA’s 11th assembly adjourned for the final time Wednesday night, and elections for the 12th assembly on March 29 will soon propel the organization into its next phase. Presidential candidate Katie Jordan is hoping that next phase will continue under her and vice presidential candidate and running mate Alex Shockley’s leadership.
Jordan, a junior public relations and community, environment, and development double major, comes to Penn State from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania. She served as UPUA’s vice president during the last assembly and has been involved in the organization since the beginning of her career at Penn State. Jordan ascended the leadership ranks as she grew in the organization, first serving on Freshman Council and then as an At-Large Representative her sophomore year before working as the vice president for Terry Ford’s administration.
For Jordan, working with Ford has been the opportunity of a lifetime. In fact, when Ford asked her to be his vice president last February, her world turned upside down — in the best way possible.
“Being a representative and being a vice president is completely different — you’re on different branches of UPUA, but at the same time, you’re still working to better student life,” Jordan said. “Working under Terry has been probably the most incredible experience of my life.”
Jordan has enjoyed Ford’s unique leadership style and admires his willingness to take risks. By having Ford as a mentor, Jordan feels connected to the Penn State community and more confident in her own ability to serve the university.
“I’ve been able to create so many important connections with various representatives throughout this past year, and I have him to thank for that,” Jordan said. “I always like to say that Terry’s had me under his wing, and now it’s my turn to fly.”
Throughout her tenure in UPUA, Jordan has worked on projects centered around a multitude of issues. Early in her VP term, she secured two additional seats on the Board of Trustees and worked to allow the student government leaders who sit on the committees to choose which one they sit on. Jordan also worked to create plans to help international students transition into their new lives at Penn State and spent countless hours to expand the “We Are Worth Funding” campaign over the past year.
But perhaps the most rewarding part of the process is simply doing what she loves. UPUA has even helped Jordan discover what she feels is her life purpose: to be an advocate and help others at all times.
“It’s so humbling being able to work with so many different people and having students or administrators coming up to us at the end of meetings and say ‘Oh, thank you for doing this,’ or ‘I really appreciate you bringing this idea to our attention,’ and knowing that somehow, someway, you’re making someone’s life better,” Jordan said. “It’s indescribable.”
Running mate Shockley is also a junior. Hailing from Ocean City, Maryland, he is a hospitality management major and a brother of Kappa Sigma fraternity. Much like Katie, Shockley’s tenure in UPUA has been filled with many various positions.
Shortly after arriving on campus, Shockley joined Freshman Council and later became one of only two freshman representatives. His sophomore and junior years he was elected as the College of Health and Human Development representative and became Chair of the Facilities Committee during his sophomore year. This past year, Shockley continued to challenge himself politically by not only serving as the Speaker of the Assembly but also as the Chair of the University Faculty Senate Committee on Student Life. Shockley is only the second junior to ever serve as Speaker, as well as the first student to ever chair one of the core Faculty Senate committees.
One of his most notable accomplishments includes streamlining the University Smoke-Free and Tobacco-Free Task Force over the past year. He’s also been an advocate for guaranteeing equal representation of student opinion by adding international student representation on the Student Life committee, as well as generating important conversations on CAPS funding and diversity.
“I think the most rewarding parts of working in student government are the knowledge and resources you get to use. For me, Terry, or Katie, we walk down the streets and it’s not like anyone knows we’re the speaker, president, or vice president of UPUA,” Shockley said. “So it’s not for the public recognition really, but more so knowing academic rights and knowing how I can increase those rights is really special — and also why it’s a major point of our platform.”
Jordan and Shockley’s platform focuses on three main pillars: increasing students’ rights, sustainability, and advocacy and collaboration. To read more on the candidates’ specific campaign, check out their website or read their platform here.
So how exactly does the Jordan/Shockley ticket differ from that of their competitors? According to Jordan, it’s the relationships they’ve formed with the university and a major goal to keep them in place.
“You cannot form these relationships overnight,” Jordan iterated. “The relationships that Terry and I have with student organizations, administrators, and staff and faculty cannot be formed and cannot be rebuilt in order to continue progress. If you look at our individual and mutual endorsements, we have the support of most of the people in the assembly right now.”
“Any time we receive an endorsement is incredible because we know we have those students’ support and the support of those organizations behind us on election day — and throughout the rest of the year if elected,” Jordan said. “Having Panhel is incredible because we know those delegates that voted on us that night are representing thousands of women on campus. To be able to say that you have the support of all of those women is incredible — I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.”
For Shockley, he feels having each of those endorsements is crucial. Greek life has been a prominent part of the university’s culture since its establishment on campus.
“Greek life is historic here at Penn State. It’s been around since the late 1800s — the university was founded in 1855,” he said. “It is truly a part of the tradition here at Penn State, so many people identify with it, and knowing that we have a piece of tradition with us really means the world to us.”
Jordan and Shockley believe their work in UPUA so far has made them capable of relating to students on both a professional and personal level. Overall, they’re confident in their relationship with the university they call home.
“People believe in us,” Jordan said. “People have seen our leadership this year and they know that we are approachable, friendly, and dedicated leaders.”