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10 Questions With Student Body President Laura McKinney

Serving as student body president is no easy task, especially at a university as large as Penn State. But that doesn’t seem to phase junior Laura McKinney.

Since being elected president of the University Park Undergraduate Association last month, McKinney hasn’t wasted any time getting down to business. She has her sights set on plenty of new initiatives as she works to better the lives of the 46,000 undergraduate students on this campus.

McKinney took a break from her busy schedule on Thursday to sit down and talk with us about all things UPUA and Penn State.

Onward State: Why did you first get involved with UPUA?

Laura McKinney: So I actually stumbled across UPUA on accident my freshman year at the involvement fair, and it was something that I was not planning on getting involved with when I came to Penn State. I was not planning on being involved with Student Government. But once I kind of dabbled in it a little bit I really realized that it’s something worthwhile and something that I wanted to do with my time at Penn State.

OS: What made you decide to run for president?

LM: I feel like throughout the past year, when I served as vice president, I got a really good insight of how the role of president worked. I kind of tagged along with the past president, Cody Heaton, on a lot of his projects and initiatives. And I kind of feel like last year was an internship and this year I got the job. So it was kind of like a training session for me, and I really wanted to run for president because throughout that whole time, I found initiatives that I was passionate about, I found how passionate that the people and the student body at Penn State was, and that it’s something I definitely wanted to carry forward and found worthwhile.

OS: What do you envision UPUA’s 14th Assembly accomplishing over the next year?

LM: I think the energy that the 14th Assembly brings forward is really refreshing. I think we have such a great group of representatives and with the addition of the community seats, it’s really exciting to see the new strides that the 14th Assembly will take, and I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone will do with the hope of collaboration throughout the whole year.

OS: What are some of your favorite projects you worked on as a member of UPUA?

LM: So far there’s two projects I’ve worked on that I’m really passionate about. The first was the free menstrual products in the HUB. It was something I saw a need for and I got a lot of feedback on that students really needed those, and I was really happy to pursue that. And then the second was the Cub Pantries, which are the smaller Lion’s Pantries that are placed in offices around campus. If students aren’t able to make it out to the Lion’s Pantry and they need some food in a pinch, they can go to these Cub Pantries to get some food.

OS: What advice do you have for incoming Penn State students?

LM: My advice that I have for incoming students is to be absolutely fearless in all of your pursuits. There is a niche for everyone here, and if you don’t find that niche, don’t be afraid to create it. There are so many people that are here to support you. Penn State is truly family and do not be afraid to reach out for help if you need it.

OS: What was your favorite class at Penn State so far?

LM: I think my favorite class that I took at Penn State so far was the Centre County Report. As a broadcast journalism student, it was a really great opportunity to kind of have a simulation of a newsroom and what it would be like once I graduate hopefully and get a job. But yeah, that was definitely my favorite.

OS: Word on the street is you ran a marathon last year…but your longest training run was only four miles. How did you do this?

LM: So yes, I did run the 2018 New York Marathon. I didn’t train for it, but that just kind of showed me that it was all mental. You can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. I wouldn’t recommend, though, running a marathon without training. It’s very difficult, but it was a worthwhile experience. So if it’s something that you’re really wanting to do, just go for it. I believe in you.

OS: Where do you get your style inspiration?

LM: I would say I get my style inspiration definitely from like that old, Hollywood classic look. I love Audrey Hepburn — she’s my go-to. I know she was back in the 40s and 50s, but that classic, timeless style is something that I always admire and something that I always try to implement in my everyday life.

OS: What’s your favorite flavor of Creamery ice cream?

LM: I’m actually lactose intolerant, so believe it or not, I’ve never had ice cream at the Creamery. I hope one day that maybe it’s an initiative that I can work on to get a dairy-free flavor. It’s something I did try to work on in the past — it didn’t go through, but it’s something I would like to pursue again.

OS: As is Onward State tradition, if you were a dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

LM: If I were a dinosaur, I would probably be that dinosaur with a really long neck, because they’re pretty peaceful, they’re tall — like me — but beyond that they have a really good perspective. They see things from kind of a 40,000 feet view and they kind of get a better understanding of the world around them. So I kind of identify with them.

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About the Author

Rory Pelella

Rory is a senior from Binghamton, New York majoring in Spanish and journalism. She's been bleeding blue and white ever since her older siblings decided to create a family dynasty in Happy Valley in 2006. So, as you can imagine, she loves absolutely everything Penn State (especially the Cheese Shoppe downtown). She's also a die-hard Yankees, Knicks, and Giants fan (it's brutal), and would do anything for a good old fashioned New York slice. Feel free to email her at [email protected] or follow her on twitter @rorypelella.

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