“I’ve always been the kind of person to challenge myself and take on new ventures without fully knowing what I was jumping into,” DeJesus said.
Rangeline DeJesus was appointed to the Shippensburg Council of Trustees as a sophomore and has since served a two-year term, ensuring the needs of students are heard. DeJesus is now a senior, graduating in May as she completes a double-major in International Studies and Spanish, as well as minors in Women’s and Gender Studies and Political Science. Before seeking out the position of Student Trustee, DeJesus met a member of the Council of Trustees while catering an event on campus.
“He came up to me to compliment our cupcakes and introduced himself as a member of the Council of Trustees,” DeJesus said. “I was like, ‘what the heck is a Council of Trustees?’”
DeJesus then researched the role of Student Trustee and met with the previous Student Trustee, Seth Edwards, to become more informed on the role. After being a “COVID freshman,” DeJesus was looking to become more involved with Shippensburg’s campus and assumed the roles of Resident Assistant in Naugle Hall and a student worker for Shippensburg University Dining Services during her sophomore year.
DeJesus said she was motivated to make the needs of students heard after rising concerns following COVID. “Coming in as a freshman during COVID, it was very isolating,” DeJesus said. “I heard pre-COVID experiences from my older friends, and I noticed there was a culture shift on campus. Knowing that I can communicate well with others and I care about the well-being of others – if you feel like you don’t have the ability to make your voice heard, I want to make sure that someone is still seeing you and speaking for you.”
As an active member of the campus community, DeJesus aimed to bring more visibility to the role of Student Trustee. “Through my engagements with SGA and participating in different club events, I try to bring more visibility to who I am and how I serve as a resource to students,” DeJesus said. “The biggest difference between what I offer to students versus Student Government is that I am like a mouthpiece to the ears of the administrators. I’m glad to be on a board with such like-minded administrators who are already thinking ahead and concerned for what students want.”
DeJesus is no stranger to leadership positions: In high school, DeJesus served as Key Club Vice President and Lieutenant Governor, overseeing five different high schools in her county.
“That gave me the confidence to see what positions I could achieve once I moved onto higher education,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus looks back fondly on her experience working alongside the Council of Trustees. “They make my job easier by being great people,” DeJesus said. “At most private universities, many of them don’t have student representatives on these kinds of boards.”
PASSHE is the only state system that has student representatives with full voting privileges both on the Council of Trustees and on the Board of Governors, which serve as the two highest governing bodies for these public institutions. “I can’t imagine what it would be like not to have access to that board and to be unable to make the student opinion heard, but I also could not imagine how much more difficult it would be to be a student member on an uncooperative board. Our Council gets along and works great together,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus is delighted by the council’s diversification, appointing two new women to the Council of Trustees. Ship alumna Ashley Loper and Moriah Hathaway have been recently appointed to the council this past month. Hathaway, ‘19, has been the executive director of the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Women since July of 2020.
“I’m so sad to be leaving as they’re just getting started,” DeJesus said. “They’re great new additions and represent a wide range of diversity on the board.”
DeJesus commends the board on its involvement in the campus community. “They come to events all over campus. They’re very caring and progressive people, not only working to progress the betterment of the university, but keeping the student body in mind as well,” DeJesus said. “They’ve encouraged me and have helped me to become more confident in my role.”
DeJesus shared that she felt a sense of impostor syndrome when she first assumed her role, coming from a low-income family with a Latina background. “I don’t even know when there was a female student trustee before me, let alone a woman of color,” DeJesus said. “But the board was so welcoming, and I’m so thankful to have worked with such amazing people.”
Working as a Resident Assistant and an employee of Dining Services has better equipped DeJesus her for the role of Student Trustee. “Working as an RA has given me such important skills, such as empathy, compassion, and communication,” DeJesus said. “It made it so much easier to already have those traits as a member of the board.”
DeJesus also shared that during her time catering for Shippensburg Dining Services, she made several connections with the Executive Management team, administration members and other alumni that she later reconnected with once she assumed the role of Student Trustee.
Though she was pleased with the counterparts she had worked with in the role, DeJesus shared that the role came with difficulties. “The role of Student Trustee doesn’t come with an instruction manual,” DeJesus said. “On a board where you are not an elected official, it’s important to know the limitations of your role. For me, it was important to learn where I was needed and how to best serve SGA and the student body, while respecting the rules and constitution of the governing board of the student body.”
DeJesus also established connections with other Student Trustees through the organization PACT, or the Pennsylvania Association of Councils of Trustees. “It was comforting to connect more personally with other Student Trustees and to hear their experiences and advice,” DeJesus said.
DeJesus shared that her experience in her term has amplified her appreciation for public universities. “Public institutions are for everyone,” DeJesus said. “t’s the key to social mobility and strides are being made in the sphere of public education to become more accessible to Pennsylvanians of all ages, everywhere. They’re trying to connect everyone everywhere, and act as a resource for everyone in attendance. Understanding the inner workings of the university have made me appreciate it more because they care more for students themselves than the numbers.”
“I’ve learned how to make my voice heard on this council. I’ve learned to lose the fear of voicing my opinions,” DeJesus said when recounting the lessons she’s learned during her term. “I’ve learned the importance of having a support system. Now that I know what that feels like, I’m excited to be able to pass that feeling on to others.”
DeJesus is currently applying to the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic and hopes to volunteer in youth development, promoting leadership and empowerment in young women and children.
“The leadership I’ve acquired while being on the council is something I’d like to imbue into the students I would be working with,” DeJesus said.
Applications for the position of Student Trustee are available to submit online at ship.edu and can be submitted to Dean of Students Lorie Sheetz (email@example.com). Eligibility requires applicants to be able to serve a two-year term and to be a full-time student in good academic standing. Applications are available to submit through Jan. 31.