Student body president endures stress, unknowns to better community

Jessica Van Ranken, student body president and senior in political science, sits on her desk, loaded with paperwork and pictures, in the Student Governing Association office in the Student Union on Sept. 7, 2016. (Mason Swenson | The Collegian)

Last fall, Jessica Van Ranken, student body president and senior in political science, and her running mate Trenton Kennedy, junior in entrepreneurship, endured a long semester of decisions and unexpected problems before winning student body president and vice president the following March.

“The campaign was a really exciting time,” Van Ranken said. “I think anytime you are campaigning for something it is a pretty fast-paced environment with a lot going on. We always kind of based our decision of what issues we would tackle on whether the issue would be something we would want to stay up until 4 a.m. working on. Those are the kinds of things that would drive us to keep going.”

It is the sheer dedication and passion for improving the community that Van Ranken said she believes is what inspired her to pursue a leadership role at K-State.

Ranken is from the small town of Lindsborg, Kansas, with a population of roughly 3,000 people, according to the Lindsborg city website.

“The atmosphere I grew up in where the people were very invested in the community was a big influence on my desire to hold a leadership position at K-State,” Van Ranken said. “It was a natural inclination to be involved in my community and to serve others around me.”

Despite her hectic schedule, it is clear that K-State means more to her than just a place to get an education, and Van Ranken said she knew it the moment she visited.

“When I came to K-State, I just saw it as a community that I could see myself being a part of and really enjoying and being able to impact,” Van Ranken said.

While the stress and unknowns of holding such a large role in the K-State community can sometimes be overwhelming, Van Ranken said she has learned to manage her stress better by tackling issues one by one and still making sure to make time for the other organizations she is involved in.

Aside from being the student body president, Van Ranken is involved in Blue Key Honor Society and Sigma Kappa sorority.

“A lot of times being student body president will consume the person and they will just be the student body president, and forget about their friends and their involvement with other organizations,” Jordan DeLoach, senior in computer science and chief of staff for the Student Governing Association, said.

Van Ranken spoke highly of the relationship she has with Kennedy.

“(Kennedy) and I have a unique working relationship because we are very different people,” Van Ranken said. “We have commonalities and shared goals and missions, which I think is the core important piece of our relationship. We are very different and I think that’s important when you are trying to serve a population that is diverse and full of different opinions on things.”

Oftentimes the stress and unknowns of working in such a leadership role means Van Ranken and Kennedy only have each other to turn to and relate to, Kennedy said.

“We must have a solid partnership if we want to be effective,” Kennedy said.

Although her Twitter has gotten more serious, DeLoach said jokingly, Van Ranken continues to be the same person she was before she was elected president.

“She’s doing the things she’s always done and is the same as she has always been; she’s just doing all of it at a more premiere level,” DeLoach said.

Hi world! I'm Kaitlyn Cotton. I'm a junior studying English with hopes of going to law school one day. I spend my days writing, reading and working for the Collegian. I have had articles published in the Kansas City Star, the Collegian, and most importantly- my parent's refrigerator.