New student government president cares about well-being of students
As Kai Martinez looks to her term as the new University of Houston-Victoria Student Government Association President, she can’t help but focus on one important and basic factor: mental health.
“The past few years have been challenging for so many students, including our first-year students experiencing college life for the first time,” Martinez said. “I want UHV to be a safe space for everyone, including mental health matters.”
Martinez, of Mercedes, ran unopposed for the position of SGA president and started her term at the beginning of June. The biology major previously served as the junior senator and chief justice for the group for the 2021-2022 academic year. She also serves as an orientation leader and works in the UHV Counseling Center and for the UHV Marketing & Communications department.
The Student Government Association serves as the liaison between students and the university’s administration. The group also strives to enhance student life by sponsoring and promoting participation in student activities. Part of Martinez’s duties also include serving as the student representative on the UHV President’s Cabinet.
Her main goal as SGA president is to ensure that students feel comfortable seeking help for their mental health and making sure that students have support when they need it. Although some students may already have difficulty transitioning from living at home to living on a university campus in another town, the pandemic has exacerbated that experience with the additional feeling of social anxiety, Martinez said.
While the UHV Counseling Center offers different services to students including virtual and in-person counseling, self-help tools and educational events, sometimes students will have a hard time opening up about their mental health, she said. As an orientation leader and SGA president, Martinez will give out her contact information to students to let them know that they can reach out to her at any time for feedback or to just talk about how they’re feeling and adjusting to university life.
“Mental health is something that affects all parts of your life, and if you’re not feeling well, it will be that much harder to be successful,” Martinez said. “I would like for the SGA to work toward getting even more mental health resources for our students so that our students can receive help in the best ways for them.”
Her other goals for her term include promoting the Jaguar Pillars, a set of academic, service and social core values for students; recruiting more students to be active in student government; and memorializing Pyramid Row, an art installation formerly on the UHV campus.
UHV senior communications student Tiarah Figueroa, who served as the SGA president for two terms from 2020-2021 and 2021-2022, called Martinez a “passionate and ambitious leader” and looks forward to seeing Martinez lead the group.
“Kai’s ambition is radiant, and that energy almost passes through others when she is around,” Figueora said. “She is the type of person who you know will get things done. She cares and is passionate about making a positive change at UHV. Kai is not only a courageous leader but also exactly what the student body needs moving into the next school year. I can’t wait to watch her lead SGA and put her skills into practice. With all that talent, I know the 2022-23 SGA administration will accomplish great things this year.”
For Hilary Kofron, director of Student Life and the group’s new solo advisor after previously serving as the co-advisor to the group with Michael Wilkinson, UHV’s senior director of Student Services & Judicial Affairs, the student government is coming off a big accomplishment of finalizing the Jaguar Pillars during the spring semester. Many hours were dedicated to the creation of the pillars, including planning meetings, feedback sessions and surveys, she said. Students can expect to see the Jaguar Pillars displayed outside Jaguar Hall Dining prior to the spring 2023 semester.
As the new student government advisor, Kofron is looking forward to growing in this new role and supporting SGA in every way possible.
“I am beyond thrilled to be working with Kai and all of our SGA officers this year. I am positive she will do an exceptional job because she is passionate, dedicated and truly cares about the students, UHV and its progress,” Kofron said. “SGA serves as the voice of our students, which is an extremely important role, and I want to make sure that I’m doing everything I can to help them succeed on behalf of our students. I’m honored to be in this role and look forward to all the incredible work Kai and the SGA team will achieve this year.”
The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.