The Student Government Association (SGA) provides Polk State College students with an active voice in administrative and legislative matters concerning the student body. The SGA serves as the liaison between students and administrators, organizes campus activities, represents students in state and national organizations, and provides advocacy on legislative issues. Officers are typically elected during the spring semester and serve one-year terms, but the JDA SGA recently formed and elected its officials. JDA SGA meetings are open to all students Wednesdays at 2 p.m. in the JDA Conference Room.
The Student Government Association at the Polk State JD Alexander Center has re-formed with fresh faces and a renewed focus on increasing student life at the Lake Wales campus.
An SGA chapter at the Center formed in fall 2016, but had since been inactive.
President Tytiana Foster, Vice President Daquanda Henderson, and Secretary Halie Turpin have led the re-formation of the chapter, united by goals to be a collective voice for students and to get their peers excited about coming to campus.
“We want students to feel like they are a big part of Polk State College and a big part of the Lake Wales community,” Foster said. “We want students to be involved, more sociable, and supportive of each other, and to come together as one voice for the student body here at JDA.”
Foster didn’t participate in any student clubs or athletics in high school, and she started this semester at Polk State with the goal to be involved in college.
Henderson and Turpin, Foster’s former peers at Lake Wales High School, wanted to get involved, too.
Foster initially approached faculty and staff about representing Polk State in the Lake Wales Christmas and Mardi Gras parades, which led to the re-formation of the SGA chapter to give students a formal way of partnering with the City of Lake Wales and other organizations.
The Lake Wales native chose to continue her education at Polk State because of the College’s affordability and small, “family-like” atmosphere. She’s working on an Associate in Arts degree and plans to study biomedical sciences and go to medical school to become a pediatrician.
She recently led Polk State JD Alexander Center SGA’s first meeting, where the group of students planned for a community Halloween event that could serve as the organization’s first fundraiser for future activities.
“I see an opportunity here and I think it will open up a lot of doors – not only for me, but also for the campus and College,” Foster said. “We can help the College toward its goal of making Polk State the first choice for Polk County residents by showing them that we offer the full college experience, including student life.”
Excited to come to campus
For Henderson, it’s about getting students excited about coming to the Polk State JD Alexander Center.
She’s also a Lake Wales native who chose Polk State because of its affordability and proximity to home. She’s working on an Associate in Arts degree and plans to transfer to Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) to study health administration.
“We need more social events that will bring all of the students together to build on that family atmosphere we already have because we’re a small campus,” Henderson said. “We want to get students excited to come to campus.”
The Polk State JD Alexander Center opened in 2009 and is ideally situated to serve residents of southeast Polk County, which is critical in a county where 38.8 percent of the population is classified as transportation disadvantaged.
And while the SGA officers don’t lack transportation to Polk State’s five other locations, they have heard from many students who do.
“A lot of students here don’t have transportation to the Winter Haven or Lakeland campuses, where there are a lot of student activities,” Henderson said. “We want to create that student life here in Lake Wales.”
A voice for the student body
Turpin’s peers described her as the outspoken one, and she wants to use that ability to be a voice for the student body.
She wants SGA to advocate for the student life Lake Wales students want, as well as more class and degree options at the Polk State JD Alexander Center.
Since 2011, enrollment has increased by 17 percent at the location, which serves an average of 1,100 students a year.
Turpin is working on an Associate in Arts degree and wants to pursue a career in special education.
She moved to Lake Wales from Indiana when she was a freshman in high school. Polk State wasn’t her first option for college, she said, but she decided to attend school close to home because of the College’s affordability.
“We want students to know that we are here to be their voice,” Turpin said. “They can come to us with any ideas they have to improve student life here, and we will help them.”
“We’re here for the students and to make positive change,” Foster added.