Student representation on campus has two new faces.
On April 20 2017, Palomar College’s Associated Student Government (ASG) wrapped up with its presidential, and vice presidential election. In the aftermath, 34-year-old Chris Hopp was elected president, and 20-year-old Amber Bancroft was elected vice-president; both candidates ran unopposed for their respective positions.
The 21-year-old Senator Armanda Contreras, who has been with the ASG for two years, said that “I was very happy for them. Because I know they know what they’re doing. They know their positions, and I’ve seen their work as I have been together with them – and I know they will be taking the best positions in pro for the student community.”
With their tenures beginning, the two set their eyes on making an impact in the coming academic year.
“I’d like to see somehow us to have an impact,” President Hopp said “[Bancroft and I] are both kind of legislative focused, we have this idea that more can be done for the student experience than is currently being done, and I’m not talking student experience as in things happening on campus but the student experience as a whole.”
Hopp has been with the ASG since January 2016. “I first became interested in student government because I had some problems in navigating the college system,” Hopp said. “In finding my way through that I found student government, and I wanted to make a difference in helping other students navigate that college experience.”
Hopp began as a senator in the ASG, he served on the policies and procedures committee, was chairman of the legislative affairs committee. The two of those then led him to take on off-campus duties, which included becoming the treasurer, and later on the legislative affairs director for Region 10 of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges, which covers all the community colleges within the San Diego area.
Through email, Director of Student Affairs, Sherry Titus, said that she is pleased with Hopp being the new president of ASG. “He is extremely committed to the work he is doing and his role as the ASG president and student trustee. He is articulate, well prepared, and is an outstanding student leader,” Titus said.
Hopp’s academic career began in Wisconsin, where he grew up. Straight out of high school he attended University of Wisconsin Whitewater, but later decided to drop out. From there, he took on a string of jobs that eventually led him to begin working at a heating and cooling company named Hovland’s Heating & Air. During his four years at Hovland he worked his way up to the position of general manager, but then decided again that it was time to change direction.
“I was a very driven employee,” Hopp said. “I worked my way up through any company I worked at. I did very well for myself, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do with my life in the end.”
It was at that point when he was 29, that he decided to come to California. Hopp is an ardent golf player, who has been involved in the sport since he was a child. Because of this, he decided that he would attend a professional golfers career college, but left almost just as quickly as he came. Finally, he arrived at Palomar.
“I got started on the Palomar path… I have never been so happy with a school – I never been so happy with a decision I made in my life,” Hopp said.
He is now pursuing a degree in the STEM field (science, technology engineering and mathematics), and is hoping to transfer from Palomar College after this year to attain his bachelors in Engineering Physics from UC Berkeley.
Vice President Bancroft is also involved in the STEM field, she is currently majoring in Bio-Engineering.
“Amber is energetic, willing to go beyond required duties, and truly enjoys serving our students and our campus community,” Titus said. “As a senator, she stepped out of her comfort zone often, trying to learn everything she could to develop her own personal growth which would enhance her contribution to the ASG.”
Bancroft was originally drawn to the position of vice president in part due to her take charge sort of attitude. “I feel like I am a very organized person, and some of the things that weren’t being done were bothering me, so I was like ‘I need to do this,’” Bancroft said.
However, she was also drawn to the position, in part, due to the service providing aspect of the job. “I really care about this school, I really like being able to help students if they’re having issues, like ‘what are you experiencing, how can we fix it?’”
Bancroft has been with the ASG for a year and a half. Before being elected VP, she had been serving as a senator to the ASG. As senator, she sat on the Faculty Senate Committee and PC3H Committee to Combat Hate. She also served as the ASG’s financial liaison, which required her to oversee all the financial dealings within the ASG’s budget.
Before coming to Palomar College, Bancroft lived in Moorpark, near LA. When it was time for her to begin her college career, she decided to part from her fellow high school students and move down to San Diego to live with her grandparents, and help out with their farm in Valley Center. “I was helping out with the greenhouse, like watering plants taking temperatures and things like that, for a while I was taking care of goats,” Bancroft said. She joked “I don’t like admitting this stuff, but it’s true… I also took care of chickens.”
Developing Building Blocks
Looking into their next year serving the ASG, both Hopp and Bancroft’s vision for how to improve the student experience strays from what past ASG administrations have done. Typically, the ASG has placed a majority of its focus on engaging students through events and personal interaction with students. Hopp and Bancroft still hope to do this to a degree, but they also want to use their terms to streamline the training process for new ASG members.
“I know it’s been a struggle for the ASG in past years, because people come in and out really fast. Some people are here for one semester, some people are here for a year, maybe two and then they’re gone,” Bancroft said.
She recounted her experience when she first took the position of financial liaison, “When I came in there was nothing. There was no how did they do it before, there was no record of it, there was no book that they could give me and be ‘like this is how we’ve always done it this is how you do it.’” Bancroft then continued, “I am hoping to establish [a record] ‘this is how to go about doing because these are the policies this is how you do it legally, this i how you get this done.’”
Hopp shares this goals with Bancroft, “It starts with the members that we interact with and making sure they know that they can have a difference beyond just our meetings,” Hopp said. “To try and pass that knowledge on, and get them involved, they can then pass it on and on and on.”
In regards to their plan for increasing student engagement, Hopp and Bancroft have already begun to plan for the semester ahead.
One of the barriers for ASG members in staffing events, is that all of the events that the ASG hosts are planned a year in advance. This means the nature of the events, the time and location, are all set up without any knowledge of what the schedules for the members of that year’s ASG will be. Bancroft said that she and Hopp planned their schedules accordingly so that they would have ASG members available for as many events as possible. “We are trying to get a system going so that we have these people are working these events, and these people are working these events,” Bancroft.
Another way they are hoping to keep up with student engagement is by having an open door policy for both the senator’s office, as well as the president and vice-president’s office. That way if any student walks by with a question, they know that there is somebody in there to help.
“I hope to leave a legacy in how the student government operates, how it runs, and for people to see what we do, what we can do and for them to want to become part of that,” Hopp said.