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Meet Illinois State’s new student body president and VP

Connor Joyce and Maureen Christensen

Student Body President Connor Joyce and Vice President Maureen Christensen.

After he graduates, Connor Joyce wants to move to California, work on the business side of a technology firm, and get his Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree.

And thanks to the Student Government Association (SGA), he’s already taking big steps toward Silicon Valley.

Joyce is the new student body president for the 2014-2015 school year. The Gurnee native is gaining a rare set of leadership skills at a young age, running an organization with an operating budget of around $300,000, with support from 29 other student leaders and on behalf of 20,000 of his peers. Even his pet SGA project this year—a mobile app that connects students with discounts at local businesses—is a perfect fit for his future career.

“I was looking for something more, something where I could get really involved and also advance myself professionally,” Joyce said. “There’s no better place to do that than student government.”

The junior human resources and psychology major rose through the ranks of SGA. After serving his freshman year in residence hall government, he was tapped for SGA’s secretary of college affordability post. That’s where he first started working to bring GeoPerks to Illinois State, replacing the student saver card. Joyce plans to spearhead a big GeoPerks marketing push on campus this fall.

“It’s my baby,” he said. “I really want this project to take off. I can see every student using it.”

Joyce and Christensen sit at a table

Joyce and Christensen, along with Executive Director Jason Swift, lead the Student Government Association.

That’s just one of the big ideas that Joyce has in mind this year. To help turn them into reality, Joyce teamed up with Vice President Maureen Christensen and Executive Director Jason Swift. Together, they were elected last spring to lead SGA’s 10-member executive branch and 20-seat senate.

During a recent interview with STATEside, Joyce and Christensen tag-teamed questions and finished each other’s thoughts.

“We’re both really driven people. We set really big goals for ourselves,” said Joyce. “By this point, we’re not just running mates. We’re friends now.”

The SGA makes a big impact on the lives of students. Joyce and 20 SGA leaders are voting members on the Academic Senate, which recommends educational policies for the University. SGA leaders also play a role in how student fee dollars are doled out to registered student organizations (RSOs).

Last year, Christensen was one of SGA’s student life senators, meaning she represented Illinois State’s 330+ student organizations. She was a big part of two initiatives—creation of a RSO of the Month program, and an educational campaign about how RSOs can request additional funding.

With those achievements still fresh, the junior marketing and journalism major from Normal is SGA’s vice president, putting her in charge of the Emerging Leaders Program. Christensen was part of that program as a freshman, and she spent the summer shoring up its curriculum.

“The biggest thing I’ve learned is how to collaborate with people,” she said. “People work at all different speeds and consume information at all different levels. You have to be able to adapt to people.”

With their No. 1 job to represent their peers, Joyce and Christensen plan to launch a series of informal town hall meetings this fall for students to meet ISU administrators—to put a face to a name.

“I want to leave my position with people knowing what student government is, knowing that we’re here, knowing what we do,” Joyce told STATEside. “We want them to know that if they have an issue, there’s students who they can contact who really care, and who are in positions to try and address it.”

Ryan Denham can be reached at