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McKinney, Griggs Encourage Penn Staters To ‘Embrace Your Journey’ With UPUA Campaign

“Looking back on my own personal journey from freshman year until now, and just knowing that next year is my last year, whatever I can do to help Penn State and give back, that’s the mission,” Laura McKinney said last week on the “campaign trail” toward UPUA’s 14th Assembly election.

McKinney, the current vice president of UPUA, is the only candidate to become the next student body president at Penn State, the leader of the University Park Undergraduate Association’s 13th Assembly. Jake Griggs, a fellow junior and the current UPUA governmental affairs chair, is running alongside McKinney to become vice president.

“I want to run for UPUA again because throughout this past year working as vice president I got to meet so many different types of people, different administrators, and really felt like it prepared me for the job,” McKinney said.

The ticket’s platform culminates in the slogan “Embrace Your Journey,” which speaks to their goal of empowering every Penn Stater to take ownership of the individual experience they have at the university. They’ve further broken down their priorities into three pillars: empower every stater, reduce financial burdens, and strengthen foundations for the future.

Between the two of them, McKinney and Griggs have sat on all of UPUA’s standing committees: academic affairs, facilities, governmental affairs, and student life.

“Being governmental affairs chair has been such a great experience. It’s allowed me to work on things that I love and lead a great committee,” Griggs said. “I’ve been so privileged to be in that position, and so I’m looking forward to…the ability to work on other projects and kind of expand my view in other areas, not just related to advocacy.”

Neither individual on the ticket, however, has sat on UPUA’s only current subcommittee: outreach. Even so, the pair is eyeing a revamp for the committee.

“We see Outreach kind of returning to its original purpose of not only reaching out to the cultural communities, which we still need to continue to improve and build on those relationships through the use of Outreach and the community seats, but also to get back to that original purpose, which was any Penn State group, whether that be Latino Caucus or Badminton Club — make sure every student’s views are heard and represented, even if they aren’t necessarily in an ‘influential’ organization,” Griggs said. “That is our job — every student, not just those in influential organizations.”

The 14th Assembly will also be UPUA’s first with the addition of Community Representative Seats, which have been granted to the university’s four Greek councils and three international/multicultural caucuses. McKinney and Griggs seem up to the challenge of a new Assembly structure, agreeing that these added perspectives and experiences can only strengthen what the organization is able to accomplish in the coming year.

“A common complaint in UPUA is that we just all agree on everything,” Griggs said. “While I think it’s highly dependent on the subject matter and you shouldn’t want arguments on everything, I do think new perspectives might make conversations more diverse, maybe we’ll get some viewpoints that we didn’t necessarily have and make us consider that that we hadn’t. I think it can only be a good thing.”

The polls open at 7 a.m Wednesday, March 28, and results will be announced the same day after polls close at 10 p.m. You can read more about the McKinney Griggs campaign here.

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About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa was the managing editor of Onward State from 2017-2019. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.

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