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Lighting the Way

Helen Umana ’21, SGA president, is driven by the desire to help others and leave everything better than she found it

January 27, 2021

While studying in Spain last year, Umana stayed connected with the Mount and ultimately applied to run for Student Government Association (SGA) president despite thinking that she’d have to run her campaign in a vastly different time zone— and ultimately having to do so from her quarantine bedroom upon her return home.

Connecting with New Students

“They saw my face all the time during orientation,” Umana says. “I know that it’s been rough. It’s been hard for me, so I can’t imagine how it’s been for new students, but I hope they know that I’m here, and I’m trying to help.” 

Helen Umana, SGA president
Helen Umana, SGA president

An Open-minded Community

“We want students to know that they’re able to express their feelings,” she says. “Our founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, were open to a discussion of everyone’s views and being respectful of them. There are a lot of issues that students want to talk about. The Mount is a place where students learn to express themselves with kindness and an open mind. SGA, and many more organizations, are creating safe spaces for them to have these open conversations.” To that end, she participated in the student freedom of expression policy board over the summer.

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Umana joined the Black Lives Matter student community action group in March. “Right now, we are working towards having an antiracist campus and focusing on creating an inclusive space for everyone.” Student leaders run many affinity, safe-identity spaces in which students discuss their experiences. Umana, whose parents are from El Salvador, has run Latinx and first-generation affinity spaces. Umana is looking forward to the ethnic studies minor that is being developed. “I hope we get more cultural enrichment classes that teach us different perspectives of people’s history,” she says.

Looking Ahead

“We will be starting off remote next semester due to the health and safety guidelines,” Umana says. “Although it is not
the senior year I had hoped for, I know that everyone, including SGA, is working hard to support all students.” “The Mount is a place where students learn to express themselves with kindness and an open mind.”