By Jackson Booth, Contributor
Devin Bertelsen ran for Student President-Regent (SPR) because she was proud to be given the chance to represent students at a university like UNO. In addition to balancing three jobs, taking a full course load, and being SPR, Bertelsen is learning what it takes to be a leader.
Bertelsen grew up in Missouri Valley, IA which is about 30 miles north of Omaha. Her graduating class included 60 students. Throughout high school, Bertelsen was involved in Key Club, National Honors Society, Math Club, cheerleading and was also student body president her senior year.
Although her loyalty remains to Iowa because of her love for Iowa State, Bertelsen said crossing the border and attending UNO was a natural choice.
“I came over here because they had the metro advantage scholarship,” Bertelsen said. “It’s close, and it’s a city. I always knew I was a big city person.”
As a freshman at UNO, Bertelsen began her journey in student government by running for an open position. Although she lost the election, this did not hinder her.
“I was running against two other people and lost by nine votes,” Bertelsen said. “That was disappointing, but I knew something would come around. What’s meant to be is what’s meant to be.”
After this loss, one of her close friends who was involved in student government encouraged her to apply for another position. She then earned the title of Campus Improvement Committee Chair and the following year became Chief Administrative Officer.
“The people behind you saying this is your opportunity, this is your chance, take it! Go! I think that is what really pushed me to enroll in student government,” Bertelsen said.
While Bertelsen loved being involved in student government, running for Student President-Regent (SPR) was a whole new beast, in a good way.
The elections for SPR were held this past Spring semester, which meant Bertelsen had to study for exams, campaign and work leaving little time for sleep.
“I enjoyed the experience, but it was stressful,” Bertelsen said. “It’s sad because only 5 percent of the University votes, but I worked hard for that 5 percent.”
Her running mate and current UNO Student Body Vice President, Shawn Addison, helped her throughout the campaign which consisted of meeting with students, passing out flyers, etc. Bertelsen said, however, campaigning was more than just passing out flyers.
“It’s not just handing out a little piece of paper and saying vote for me, it’s saying listen to me this is why I want to be in this position and this is why I’m going to be your best vote,” Bertelsen said.
As Student Body President, she is responsible for overseeing the legislative branch which consists of 32 student senators from the various colleges. She also manages the executive branch members.
On the other hand, as Student Regent, Bertelsen sits on the Regent Board, which consists of eight members elected by Nebraska citizens, and represents UNO to the board.
“I get to meet some fantastic people. I get to talk to the people on campus that really have the passion for UNO,” Bertelsen said. “I have the best job.”
Another reason Bertelsen loves her job as SPR is she gets to listen to the needs of UNO students and represent them at a level where she can seek change.
“Students’ concerns are the main things that are important to me and to the senators,” Bertelsen said. “They’re the ones that go to school everyday and sit in class. They see the issues and that’s why we want them to come to us.”
It is truly important to represent those needs, she said, as she is aware that students have many concerns. However, it is also important for students to remember not everything can be done over night.
“I think every project needs to be well researched, needs to be well analyzed,” Bertelsen said. “Is this something we can change? How can we change it? Some things don’t happen in a split second. Mav-Ride, for example, took years before it got up and running.”
She said this is why the job of SPR is time consuming and demanding. Some of the ways she has been able to maintain focus is by organizing, multi-tasking, and learning to say no.
“We have to learn as college students that we have to say no once or twice,” Bertelsen said.
Owning an Apple iPhone, iPad, and a Macbook has been very helpful in keeping her organized.
Learning to balance her life outside of school and her role as SPR is a challenge she tackles head on. Despite her busy life, Bertelsen takes time to relax once or twice a week, whether it be just getting on Facebook, or even better, watching Netflix.
“My big obsession has been Dog the Bounty Hunter. Netflix has all seven seasons,” Bertelsen said. “If I have a free moment, I think relaxing is a big thing.”
She recently made a new addition to her family, a puppy named Milo. Milo is a Yorkie-Poodle mix. Milo’s name is not a reference to the Milo Bail Student Center.
Despite her hectic school and personal schedule, Bertelsen is excited to see what the future holds for UNO. The opportunities for UNO seem endless.
“Our school is transforming from a commuter college to a full-fledged university,” Bertelsen said. “We have the opportunity to get 20,000 students by 2020 which I think is great. It’s important to take that and reach out.”