Sophomore Maysa Sitar was elected to be the Associated Students of Michigan State University’s Vice President for Governmental Affairs, or VPGA, midway through the year.
ASMSU President Cookie Rifiotis said it was Sitar’s involvement in the general assembly, or GA, and her role as secretary to the Association of Big Ten Students' executive board that led her to land the position.
Rifiotis described Sitar’s involvement in the undergraduate student government as “going above and beyond.”
"Sometimes you feel like you have to live up to these expectations, but she really hit the ground running," Rifiotis said.
ASMSU’s Office of Governmental Affairs works to advocate for MSU students at the local, state and federal levels of government. Sitar ran for VPGA because of its connection to her personal interests.
“I've always been extremely interested in government my whole life. And as a GA (representative), I was always really interested in the legislative side of it, beyond just writing bills," Sitar said, "like, what happens after you write a bill? How do you advocate and make things happen? It was really a position that interested me in that way."
Sitar took the position after former VPGA Eli Pales stepped down to leave for a semester-long study abroad. Pales is also Sitar's boyfriend, however their relationship played no part in Sitar’s election.
"It's always weird when you take over someone's position that you're dating, but it was 100% separate,” Sitar said. “We just happened to be in the same organization."
Because Sitar took on the position mid-year, she had to quickly adjust to the responsibilities of the VPGA. Sitar said being in a relationship with former VPGA Pales partially helped her learn the ropes.
“I think it helped me a little bit just because I had heard from him before what was done, but I knew previous VPGAs before that,” Sitar said. “It's been a learning curve, but there’s still a lot that I’ve had to figure out on my own.”
This is not the first time an individual was elected to a position in the Office of the President in the middle of a term.
Rifiotis was the most recent individual to undergo a similar transition when she was elected as the Vice President of Internal Administration in the middle of the 2016-17 academic school year.
Current Vice President for Internal Administration Mario Kakos elaborated on the difficulties of taking on the VPGA position.
“Any position in the Office of the President is very nuanced in the sense that you can read the job description and you can get a grasp of what it entails, but when you start actually doing the position," Kakos said, "you soon realize that there's far more that isn't written down."
This is something Sitar has had to navigate herself, which she described as being one of the toughest challenges.
"It's a lot easier when you have an entire year, and when you're learning as everyone else is learning,” Sitar said.
Rifiotis said Sitar has been adjusting to the position “extremely well."
"(Sitar is) fitting right into the team, to the role and making it her own, which is also really, really special," Rifiotis said.
Kakos also commented on Sitar’s ability to make the position her own by saying “she has done a good job in figuring out the landscape and how (she is) going to be a different VPGA than other ones in the past.”
Since Sitar has started, she has quickly grown an appreciation for the responsibilities of VPGA.
“I really like the hands-on advocacy work," Sitar said. "I like being able to see how what ASMSU is advocating for takes effect. It's really nice to be able to meet with the mayor or meet with representatives and be able to face-to-face have these really important discussions and actually make plans to fix the things that we want fixed."