Dalia Calvillo works her way up the ranks in SG

Calvillo won the election to become student body president this semester but came a long way from where she started in Student Government.


Photo courtesy of Calvillo.

Richard Pereira, Staff Writer

Going from being a shy freshman to representing the entire student body at Florida Atlantic University is a tall task for someone to handle. Dalia Calvillo has shown otherwise.

Calvillo, who enrolled at FAU as a political science major during the Fall 2020 semester, didn’t know what she wanted to do with the major as she didn’t know where to start.

“I was looking for a Bible study type of group, and then I ended up finding the House of Representatives,” Calvillo said. “That was really weird for me but I read over the description of the club and I was like, ‘I’d like to do something that I’d actually be interested in.’”

Calvillo ended up applying for a seat in the House of Representatives for Student Government, went to one of their meetings, and saw students creating solutions on how to interact better with each other via initiatives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a first-gen student, something that I really wanted to do is just to prove that minority women are able to make an impact on a university in the United States,” said Calvillo, whose parents are immigrants from Mexico. “That was my main motivation for joining Student Government: just making sure that I’m making the most of my college experience while making an impact within my community.”

Calvillo saw multiple positions go her way in SG, first serving as a representative then becoming house administrative officer, and taking over as speaker pro tempore. Then, Spring 2022 semester came and she decided to run for student body vice president alongside Pierce Kennamer on the presidential ticket for the SG election, which they proceeded to win by a wide margin against two opposing tickets.

Calvillo said she feels blessed to have a great relationship with Kennamer, not just as friends but co-workers as well. He also played a major role in helping her come out of her shell by showing her how to manage people, how to treat others, and how to work with initiatives.

“We set ourselves to a high standard and something that really helped between us is that even though we have such a close personal relationship, we were able to hold each other accountable within a professional setting,” Calvillo said. “Pierce is a little bit more outspoken than I am in a lot of things. He definitely taught me how to be more confident and how to pursue different things. Like, if a door closes, you can always knock on another door to like achieve what you want to do.”

A year passed, and Kennamer is set to graduate after the Spring 2023 semester following the end of his term as student body president. However, Calvillo said it took a month for her to decide even with the seat being up for grabs to anyone interested in running for the position.

“I would have not run for student body president if I knew that there was someone better for the position, and I say that with all humbleness because I really care for the organization and I wouldn’t want to see like all the work that went in this year and all of the barriers that we were able to pass,” Calvillo said. “I’ve seen the impact that I’ve been able to have on other people’s lives so just serving my community is something that’s very important to me, and I was like, ‘You know what, I’m actually going to do it.’”

Since joining SG, Reilly Bridgers, current chief of staff, has worked with Calvillo for several years. Working together at the executive level, they have been able to collaborate on more projects that can help benefit the student body.

“I watched this year as Dalia continued to learn more about her role, the difficulties of group dynamics and responsibilities of leadership, adapt to how to overcome setbacks in projects, and become more confident in a role that others look to for guidance,” Bridgers said.

Bridgers said the one thing that stood out to him about Calvillo was how she cares about helping the student body and wants to be a friend to every member of the FAU community.

“She has a desire to succeed, strong empathy for students, and a breadth of experience in leadership roles such as speaker pro tempore, and now as vice president. This is usually a recipe for tremendous success and I can’t wait to see Dalia in the role of student body president,” Bridgers said.

Bradley Swan, Calvillo’s student body vice president for the next academic year, said she is one of the smartest and most passionate people he has ever worked with.

“She knows Student Government like the back of her hand and I know she will do great as student body president,” Swan said. “As vice president, she gained great experience shadowing Pierce and understanding more of the inner workings of Student Government. I have 100% confidence in Dalia as your student body president and you should too.”

Calvillo plans on continuing the programs she and Kennamer implemented throughout the 2022-23 academic year. These include the textbook support program and the parking citation forgiveness program, while new ideas she has in mind involve hosting tailgates for FAU’s away games for sports.

“Just continuing those programs that are actually benefiting students in that they are able to see something physical that’s being there for them and that Student Government is there for them,” Calvillo said.

With the position of student body president also having her serve among the Board of Trustees, which is responsible for the most important decisions the university makes, Calvillo said she is taking a different approach to representing the student body.

“That’s a moment when you realize I’m not here as ‘Dalia’; I’m here as there are 30,000 students that stand behind me and I’m here to represent them and voice their opinions. I plan on representing students as they want me to be,” Calvillo said.

One of the biggest lessons Calvillo learned throughout her time in SG is learning how to work with others. She explained how people within SG look up to her to do something or rely on her to make decisions.

“At the end of the day, you’re trying to find solutions for people but also a big part of it is just taking in people’s frustration,” Calvillo said. “I’ve learned how to be graceful to others and how to be a person that’s there to listen and I’ve definitely learned how to put others above myself.  That’s the biggest lesson: being graceful and being there for others and learning how to put your neighbor above you.”

Graduating in the Spring 2024 semester, when her term as student body president comes to a close, Calvillo wants people to look back on her administration as one that left their mark in SG and as one for people to look up to.

“I’d love for people to look back and probably use my administration as an example or as a standard for them to be even better,” Calvillo said. “That’s something that I’d love to do; just show people that you’re in this position and there’s so much you can do if you just actually dedicate your time to it.”

Richard Pereira is a staff writer for the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet him @Rich26Pereira.