ASUI Director of Diversity Affairs Alejandra “Vivi” Gonzalez never planned on running for ASUI President.
“I was encouraged by a lot of my peers in a lot of the offices that I work with,” Gonzalez said. “They encouraged me to run — they saw the potential in me.”
Running for ASUI president was another door that opened for Gonzalez and she made the bold decision to step through — something she, as a bright, first-generation student from a conservative small town in Idaho, is getting used to doing.
“I’ve been very lucky in my career and in my journey through higher education,” Gonzalez said. “I’ve used all the resources available, taken all the opportunities I was given, and that’s gotten me very far.”
This wasn’t always the case, Gonzalez said. In high school, she said Idaho’s notoriously under-funded education system let her down, along with all the overcrowded classrooms, overworked teachers and outdated materials that came with it.
Gonzalez said her parents recognized the same issues she faced in high school affecting her 17-year-old brother. They sent him to live with Gonzalez to be enrolled as a junior at Moscow High School.
Gonzalez said acting as her brother’s legal guardian has greatly impacted her decision to run for ASUI president, as well as helped guide her campaign.
“I have two other sisters who are younger who are still going through the education system who are facing the issues that also affected me,” Gonzalez said. “I want to be that role model to (my brother) and to other students who struggle with the education system.”
While diversity and multicultural affairs are what Gonzalez and her running mate, Izaiah Dolezal, are well-versed in, her passion for other issues, such as Idaho’s education system, makes her confident she could advocate for the student voice on a larger scale.
“I definitely think my work with diverse communities has shaped me into the leader that I am today, and that’s a leader that works with integrity,” Gonzalez said. “What sets me apart I guess is my innovation for seeing what issues are affecting our students, addressing those issues and causing our students to think critically about our time here at the University of Idaho and about each other.”
Hannah Shirley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org