The Student Bar Association at UF Law will host Fall 2020 Elections for our new 2020-21 class representatives on Monday, September 21, 2020. This page announces the candidates and, for those candidates who have provided it, gives a small statement as to why they have sought the position.

Candidates for 1L Representative

Section 1

Colson Douglas

The Student Bar Association at the University of Florida represents law students as new members of the legal community and as future professionals. In doing so, it is of the upmost importance for the SBA to be the preeminent SBA in the State of Florida and even the nation. The University of Florida has produced the most American Bar Association Presidents since 1973. As a result, the SBA should strive for the same level of excellence. As some of you might have known, the FSU Student Bar Association recently won the ABA’s top national award for the fourth consecutive year in a row which honors the best SBA in the nation. My platform is to place a greater emphasis on developing the SBA at the University of Florida. This requires a delicate balance of social events while also promoting professional development. My platform can be broken down into three pillars that I believe can further promote and develop the reputation of UF Law students and the UF SBA.

The first pillar for improving the standing of the UF SBA and its connection with students is to provide better updates and communications to the student body. Transparency and communication are important to the smooth function of the representative body of UF Law students. The beginning of the academic year is the best opportunity to attract students to engage with the Student Bar Association. Thus, I seek to develop a formulated and strategic plan that outlines how to best engage students by showing students the benefits the SBA has to offer both in term of social interaction and professional development. This leads into the second pillar of my platform. The second pillar of my platform is to increase the professional development events and networking opportunities. The University of Florida has one of the best alumni networks and utilization of this network not only sets up the SBA for success but also helps improve the standing of the Law School as one of the best in the nation as UF seeks its assent to the top. Providing opportunities for students to network for professionals, whether virtually or in person, is important not only maintaining alumni commitments to the law school but also to future generations of the legal profession that originates from the University of Florida.

Finally, social interaction with other students is a powerful incentive to maintain involvement of students with the SBA. The intrinsic benefits provided to students through activities such as athletics, comradery, and competition is the third pillar of my platform that will provide a solid foundation to propel the UF SBA to a promising future. These pillars form the foundation of my platform and I believe can be used to establish a long lasting reputation and legacy for future generations of law students at the University of Florida while also promoting the advancement of current students.

Alexandra Lee

Hi! I’m Alexandra Lee. I am running for SBA First Year Representative for Section 1. If elected, I would increase the number of virtual get-togethers within and between sections and class years to help incorporate us into the UF Law community. I want to make our 1L year as wonderful as possible!

Section 2

Angelo Pereira

Hello! My name is Angelo Pereira, I am a current 1L and am already loving everything about UF Law. I earned my undergraduate degree at UCF where I majored in Legal Studies and was a part of the UCF Moot Court team. I’d love the opportunity to be one of the Section 2 1L Representative. 1L involvement is more important than ever in the SBA! Since us 1Ls have more section than ever our representation in the SBA is also higher than ever! I’ll always make sure to listen and convey the thoughts and concerns of my classmates. My conduct will follow this enhanced responsibility I will always hold myself to a higher standard and will always be available to the section no matter how big or small the issue.

Sarah Lucker

My name is Sarah Lucker and I am running for SBA because I have seen first hand the power that student governments have to change the world for the better. As a freshman at the University of South Florida, I was unsure of what direction my life would take. All I knew for sure was that I wanted to find a job where I could help other people and try to build a better future. Luckily, my academic advisor recommended that I run for the Student Government Senate and it changed my life. Over the next four years I was transformed from a timid freshman to an empowered advocate for change. I was elected Vice-Chair and then Chair of the Policy Committee, where I got to help others draft legislation that directly impacted our student body. In my senior year, I was elected President of the Senate and had the incredible opportunity to lead others in the service of our student body.
Throughout my time in the Senate, my main goal was to be a servant-leader and try my best to fulfill the needs of our community. I created a committee for community service so we could give back to the Tampa Bay area by volunteering at local hospitals and collecting supplies for schools in need. I started a leadership program for first year students and collaborated with leaders from all across campus to help them find a wide array of involvement opportunities. I even served as a member of our university’s Activity and Service Fee Recommendation Committee and worked with all of our student affairs departments and hundreds of student organizations to help them create their budgets for the next school year. Being in Student Government was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life: it challenged me to grow in new ways on a daily basis and showed me how much good we can do when we work together.
If I am elected to serve as your SBA Representative, I will bring my same passion for servant-leadership to fully devote myself to caring for our law school community. Our section is starting law school (a major life transition) in the midst of a pandemic. Those normal stresses about school are magnified because of all of the uncertainty around us. I want to focus on making sure that students can easily access mental health resources and create opportunities for us to come together as a community to just relax. As an SBA representative, I will do my best to ensure that every student feels supported by a community that truly cares for them.

Kyler Gray

Hello friends and colleagues,
My platform is built on two main pillars: ACCESS and COMMUNICATION.
Advocate for more streamlined, efficient, and free 24-hour printing services in the Lawton Chiles Legal Information Center.
Advocate for more diverse food options on the UF Law campus.
Ensure that the student voice is relevant at all levels of UF Law decision making.
Ensure that course reading lists are verified and accessible two weeks prior to the start of the semester.
Advocate for a Counseling and Wellness Center representative at the UF Law campus to help combat mental health issues and spread mental health awareness.
Ensure an update to the SBA website, to adequately reflect all changes to the Executive Board and committee assignments.
Institute monthly SBA section reports from the Section Representatives, detailing any updates, ongoing initiatives, and funding information.
Help establish a monthly newsletter from the SBA sent to all UF Law students, faculty, and staff, concerning the movements and headways on respective SBA business.
Establish a “Year in Review” detailing the post-year growth and success of the SBA.
I would like to first acknowledge how excited I am to even be in the running to help represent you. It has always been my highest passion and purpose to serve and advocate for those around me. Which is why I ask one simple question, what do you want your UF Law experience to be? If you want an experience that is transformative, empowering, equitable, and fun, I share in that same vision. I am a dedicated leader with a proven track record for intently listening to student concerns, facilitating partnerships with faculty and staff, turning initiatives into reality, and most importantly, serving and positively upholding the interests of those whom I represent. It would be both an honor and a privilege to serve you this following year.
Thank you for your consideration, and thank you for your vote.

Section 3

Ashley Grabowski

Hello all! My name is Ashley Grabowski, and I am running to represent our section within the UF Student Bar Association this year. I’m passionate about advocacy and meaningful action, and I’m excited at the prospect of working to help all of our section members reach their fullest potential in law school.

I pursued both my undergraduate and master’s studies at UF, and while I was here, I was actively involved in our Student Government. Student Government allowed me to gain experience in transforming ideas into actionable initiatives that actually helped student lives: from collaborating with Student Governments across the nation to pass a resolution advocating for sexual assault prevention, to facilitating the creation of a central resource page for students, to lobbying for the increased provision of mental health resources on campus.

As a representative for SBA, I would be committed to listening to the needs of everyone in our section and developing targeted plans to respond to them. I want to ensure that no student gets left behind—whether they’re here in-person or participating via Zoom. My specific policy ideas include the implementation of an interest fair to help 1Ls explore different areas of law, facilitating mentorship between upperclassmen and 1Ls, and developing class-wide social events to help us connect in these unique times.

Most importantly, I believe that effective representation involves accessibility and transparency. As a representative for our section, I’d ensure that information regarding SBA’s current initiatives was accessible and convenient for everyone to access. I know that we are strongest when we collaborate, and as such, I’d actively listen to our section members to hear what is needed and how SBA can help. I believe that everyone should feel that their voice and interests matter, and as your representative, I’d be committed to demonstrating that through tangible action.

Brian M. Finazzo

I am running for a position as one of the First Year SBA Representatives for Section Three because I strongly believe in advocating on behalf of my fellow classmates. With the current, unprecedented issues that we face as First Year Law Students, there are special interests that we must work to protect. Among these, I am especially concerned about our ability to maintain a safe social distance without compromising the quality of our education, our success both in and out of the classroom, and the protection of private student health information.

To meet these needs, Representatives have an obligation to work hand in hand with their classmates as well as faculty members. During my tenure as a School of Business Senator for my undergraduate institution’s Student Government Association, I worked with numerous integrated faculty/student committees to ensure that the interests of my constituency were addressed. These committees included but were not limited to the Campus Safety Advisory Committee, the Diversity Equity & Inclusion Committee, and the Committee charged with securing funding for student clubs and activities on Campus, the latter of which I acted as Chairperson.

As students, we understand how it feels to not be heard and to have our concerns dismissed or discarded. I am running for a position as your SBA Representative to ensure that we are considered fairly. As one of your SBA Representatives, I will do everything in my power to advocate on your behalf, protect your interests, and make our first year of Law School as safe and successful as possible.

Jeremy Gutner

My name is Jeremy Gutner and I’m a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer, a United States Marine, and a fellow first-year law student who wants to represent you in the Student Bar Association.

My biggest qualification is my experience in a very similar role of advocacy and representation. While a volunteer with Peace Corps Colombia, I was elected by my cohort to be a Representative in the Volunteer Advisory Council (VAC), representing the needs of a large group to those in leadership. I was elected President of the VAC after about six months and took on a larger role. During my time in that role, I ran our meetings with our Country Director and senior staff. As a team, we managed to contract a staff psychologist, increase Volunteers’ vacation flexibility, gain funds for feminine hygiene products for female Volunteers, and get a new cell phone plan for Volunteers. We also sold shirts and hats to raise money for small grants that Volunteers used in their pueblos and at their schools.

Additionally, I recently completed Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, where I developed valuable skills that will help me to represent you. On our way to becoming Marines, we had to think and decide under pressure, take criticism publicly, and foster fair treatment when we were in positions of leadership. I can also lead a rifle squad through the woods exclusively with hand signals, though I don’t anticipate having to use that any time soon.

I know that many students have had troubles with the online learning components of classes due to Coronavirus, printing, and connecting more deeply with the law school community at large. These are issues I’d especially like to help the SBA solve or mitigate. I recognize that we are all new on campus, so we can’t really know what issues will come up in the next three years or three weeks. I will endeavor to be dependably transparent and readily accessible as an effective Representative for our section.

Meredith Burgess

Hello, I am Meredith Burgess and I’m running to represent Section Three as a 1L Representative for the SBA. For some background, I’m from the Birmingham, Alabama area and completed my undergraduate degrees in Auburn, Alabama. I received one BA in History and one in English Literature from Auburn University before deciding to venture into a career in education. After college I was fortunate enough to be invited to serve in the Peace Corps as a Secondary Education Volunteer. I spent two years in Sambava, Madagascar teaching English and organizing trainings for fellow teachers and other Peace Corps Volunteers. At the end of my service I returned to the Birmingham area and worked as a paraprofessional in Special Education classrooms until the COVID-19 pandemic closed my school.
I feel very strongly that I can serve as an enthusiastic and experienced 1L representative for Section 3. During my time as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was elected by fellow Volunteers to act in a similar capacity; each region of the country selected one representative to travel to the capital and meet with Peace Corps staff in biannual meetings to discuss policy adjustments and advocate on behalf of the Volunteers of my region. As a 1L at the Levin College of Law I am eager to return to my role as advocate in the service of my peers and better advance our interests through the SBA.

Section 4

Chris Hill

The express honor of entering UF Law as a member of the most capable, genuine, and promising student body I have ever met has inspired me to seek a more proactive role within our new community. Serving as a Student Bar Association First Year Representative for Section Four will reward me with the opportunity to serve as a communicative agent for my fellow classmates, a role in which I can voice their comments and concerns to the student body at large, as well as to the administrators of the great institution we are so fortunate to attend.

I was a member of the Residence Hall Association during my freshman year of college, and I worked full time throughout my undergraduate. I’ve been a manager at a fast food restaurant, a kitchen manager at a restaurant, and a front desk agent who essentially doubled as security. I’m ready to commit the same high standard of care that I put forth in these jobs to addressing the concerns you bring me throughout the year. In terms of hobbies and interests, I enjoy boxing, cooking, oat milk, going to movie theaters (though not recently), illusions, and poker. I would like to serve as an approachable, friendly representative that facilitates comfortable conversations with fellow students.

My platform is predicated on a desire to help make the experience of first year law students—both the current class and those of future years—just a little bit easier. Specifically, I would like to guide the creation of an easily-accessible, up to date outline bank for 1L courses. While options to access outlines already exist, they are not without shortcomings. Outline Depot is one such option, but their transactional system for obtaining outlines is an unnecessary obstruction for our already-swamped gators. The wonderful work of the John Marshall Bar Association is based primarily on Facebook and requires a paid membership. While the fee itself is not prohibitive, I would like to establish free access to a readily-available public outline bank targeted towards 1L courses.

Thank you for taking the time to read my platform and background, I am beyond excited to work with each and every one of you for the next three years and beyond.

Melody Zargari

Hello, Section 4! My name is Melody Zargari, and I am running to serve as one of our Student Bar Association section representatives.

SBA’s mission strongly resonates with my belief that a positive and engaging educational environment is paramount to academic success. I spent the last three years teaching high school math in Boston, Massachusetts, where I also advised the Student Government Association. The school is only fifteen years old, with a student body of 200 and a small athletics program. As a result, there hasn’t been much opportunity to build strong traditions and culture. When I began advising SGA, our annual climate and culture survey reported that only 6% of students were satisfied with our school culture. There is robust data suggesting a strong correlation between student satisfaction and student achievement, so I pushed my student leaders to create an environment that both invested in students and encouraged students to invest into it. This included introducing pep rallies, a Homecoming soccer game, spirit weeks, and senior nights, culminating in a sold-out prom on a boat on the Boston Harbor. The transition from dynamic in person events to engaging virtual programs wasn’t effortless but continuing to provide students with a safe and welcoming environment remained our top priority. In our most recent climate and culture survey, 92% of students expressed pride and satisfaction in their school culture, even amidst distance learning during a pandemic. I strongly believe that the experience of building a positive and engaging school atmosphere from the ground up has prepared me to uphold SBA’s mission and vision in this isolating and disheartening time. To me, this means entering resources and programs around the novel needs of students. As 1Ls, we are facing an overwhelming workload, which is only exacerbated by our limited socializing and networking opportunities. In addition to hosting lively virtual gatherings, I would like to provide resources that help us best prepare for virtual interviews and competitive summer internships. I am committed to planning impactful and worthwhile programs that help you achieve your goals.

Additionally, as some of you may know, I recently co-founded a non-profit organization that supports underserved and underrepresented students applying to law school. My passion for diversifying the legal community extends to creating a safe and supportive learning environment for all students. I hope to serve on SBA’s diversity committee and work with my colleagues to plan intersectional events that bring affinity groups together to celebrate the powerful voices on our campus.

While this school year presents unique challenges to community building, I am confident that innovative and committed leadership will rise to the occasion. Thank you for considering me to represent you in this effort!

M. Houston Brown, Jr.

Greetings my fellow classmates. It is an honor and privilege to call you my classmates and I am proud to be part of UF Law’s Class of 2023. As you may already know, my name is Houston Brown and I am part of Section 4 (or as we like to call it – Team 4). While I may not have always dreamed of going to law school, I have continuously had a vision of helping people and teaming up with others to further a productive society. This passion is evident through prior involvement with my undergraduate school. Namely, my work with the University Senate where I successfully advocated on behalf of students with disabilities, the Student Health Insurance Committee where I successfully advocated for student health coverage needs with the Student Health Department, and a middle/high school mentor program where I mentored underprivileged students in the communities surrounding our university. While that list is not exhaustive, it demonstrates my passion and track record for representing my peers. Likewise, it demonstrates my commitment to our surrounding communities that welcome us into their home. I firmly believe that students need fair and exemplary representation with their host institution and that we owe a duty to our surrounding communities that make our educational advancement possible. With that said, I am announcing my candidacy to represent Section 4 within the University of Florida Levin College of Law Student Bar Association.

As we embark on this new journey, it is imperative that we are given the tools that we need to succeed. We are a student body filled with different minds, diverse backgrounds, and unique attributes – traditional representation simply does not work. I am a leader that values input from all constituents (not just those that make the job “easy”), encourages constructive feedback and criticism, and stays true to my word. As a student who has struggled with his sexuality, suffered from mental health issues, and had to overcome adversity – I know the importance of ensuring that everybody is heard. On campus, we deserve to have equal educational opportunities (our current threat is the lack of support for our online peers). We deserve to have social opportunities, be they virtually or in-person (when allowed), to bridge the gap between sections and create those 1L bonds that we will remember for the rest of our lives. We deserve to have all of our concerns appropriately and effectively addressed by the administration and not “swept under the rug.” As for our surrounding community, they deserve our gratitude for welcoming us into their home and deserve our support in enriching their lives (mostly, mentoring middle/high school students with college readiness and even undergraduates with the law school admissions process). The success, wellbeing, and concerns of my peers are of great importance to me. I pledge to be the best representative that I possibly can and will execute my duties with your best interests in mind. Thank you.

Caleb Sheppard

My name is Caleb Sheppard, I am a native Inverness, Florida, and I am a proud first-generation graduate of Charter Oak State College. As a result of homeschooling and predominantly online college courses, my pre-law experience was largely untraditional. My personal experiences with an educational career spent at home have lent me insight during this ongoing era of social seclusion. Coming from a low-income family, I understand that the opportunities I currently enjoy are built on the shoulders of those who sacrificed to provide me with a chance to reach the successes barred to them in youth. My firm grasp of the importance of a supportive community was a driving factor in my choice to attend the Levin College of Law as I anticipated that this student body would lend me guidance and fortification in the formative stages of my legal career. My experience thus far has been nothing short of fulfilling in this respect, and I desperately hope to give back to my fellow classmates as they have done for me. I believe that my non-traditional educational experiences and personal motivation to pay it forward are the ideal tools for building up not just the members of Section 4, but the entire student body of our amazing school.

David Allen

The Student Bar Association at UF Law serves to democratically represent its students at by supporting academic, professional, and other important resources. As a Representative for Section 4, my immediate plan of action would be 3-sided: create a professional networking committee that seeks to amplify opportunities to interact with members of the professional legal community; work with the existing Faculty-Student Committee to ensure that Section 4, and all of the Class of 2023, is heard by the school’s Administration, and the leadership of the University; and enhance the work done by the Mental Health and Wellness Committee to promote mental health resources that the Law School and University have to offer.
Getting involved in the professional legal community is hard enough without a global health crisis. Most of us haven’t had the opportunity to meet judges or lawyers, work for law firms, or interact with the professional legal community; without professional networking, finding potential summer opportunities can be almost impossible. My plan would be to create a temporary committee that would work to put law students – especially first year law students – in opportunities where they are able to meet with professionals in their fields in order to fill the gap that exists due to COVID-19.

A major responsibility of SBA is its representation of the student body to the faculty and administration. It might be easy for the law school’s administration to make decisions without the input of its students, especially first year students. For those of us who haven’t had much time on campus to know how to make their voices heard, I strive to be that connection between Section 4 and the administration. I plan on working with the other Section 4 Representatives to always have an open door and advocate for our section members to the SBA and the administration.

Law school is a tough and competitive undertaking, oftentimes with the first-year students taking the greatest toll. Studies show that depression, substance abuse, and extreme anxiety are mental health issues that oftentimes develop during the first year, and subsequent years. No one thinks it will happen to them; but it is vitally important that our school has the resources available and advertises them efficiently. For many students, old and new, we are simply unaware of the resources the University has to offer. I plan to work directly with the Mental Health and Wellness Committee to start an advertisement campaign to inform our student body of the resources available to them at our Law School and the University.

I look forward to working for your support and appreciate your vote on September 21st!

Section 5

Ty Robare

Advocacy should be at the heart of any organization’s approach to leadership, and SBA is no exception. Law students require a learning environment that advocates for individual and collective interests in the quality of our learning, the efficacy of our diverse representation, and the efficiency of our many law organizations. As always, we require the ability to interact with each other and build our professional and interpersonal networks. This has not changed even in an era of uncertainty juxtaposed against the backdrop of the deadliest global pandemic in our lifetime, and we must come together as student leaders to create the frameworks that enable us to facilitate our mission as law students: to promote the principles of justice intrinsically tied to this profession.

In order to continue this ongoing, unceasing mission for advocacy, I believe we should prioritize the following:
(1) Collaborate with the law school’s administration on securing the funding necessary for the school’s organizations to promote and execute their events
(2) Promote, with intentionality, the efforts of student leaders and faculty to advance the necessary causes of social justice that seek to expose systemic racism, sexism, transphobia, and ableism that affect our communities locally and nationally
(3) Create meaningful opportunities for professional networking across forms of law (both widely-practiced and niched) and through the extensive, undeniably strong international networks that tie the Gator Nation together

Jonathan Harrington

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned everything that we thought we knew upside-down. I’m running to represent my 1L section because, like dozens of my classmates, I am an online student and I understand the unprecedented challenges that we face, both in and out of school. With the perspective my experiences bring, I will advocate for the classmates in my section as well as the broader UF community.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: online students are at a severe disadvantage. We can’t hear our classmates’ questions and answers well, even though these are key components of the law school experience we signed up for. Sometimes we can’t even hear our professors. Home internet connections in this pandemic are unreliable at best, furthering frustrating our learning objectives. Everyone is doing the best that they can, but we deserve better, and we shouldn’t be penalized for staying home and helping contain the spread of COVID-19.
For these reasons, as part of my platform, I’m calling on the University of Florida to curve grades separately and distinctly for online students as compared with traditional in-classroom students. A more ideal solution would have been to simple have an online-only section so students could compete on a level playing field, but rightly or wrongly, UF took another approach. Online students shouldn’t be made to suffer academically or professional because of UF’s decision to blend sections; instead, online-only students should have their performance evaluated relative to their online peers, not their traditional student counterparts.
COVID-19 is not the only challenge that we all face – global heating also threatens the extinction of the human race. Our actions and inaction now will ring out for thousands, even millions of years. As representative to my constituent section, I will do all that I can to ensure that our shared concerns for the future of this planet are heard by the UF community and administration. This includes fighting for divestment of the UF endowment from environment-killing oil & gas companies and for the immediate declaration of a climate emergency by the University of Florida and Levin College of Law.
Nobody can accomplish these goals alone. I will try to get the ball rolling, but I will need your help. If you support my agenda, vote for Jonathan Harrington as your representative. Whatever you do and whomever you vote for, don’t just stop there. Democracy is not a spectator sport, and in this time of unprecedented crisis, we’re all in this together. Vote for the vision that we share on September 21, from 8:30 AM to 6 PM.

Nadia Rossbach

My name is Nadia Rossbach and I am running for Student Bar Association 1L Representative for Section 5. If elected to serve as one of your 1L Representatives, I hope to operate as a voice for every student to share their unique story. Coming from a low-income, broken-family background, I overcame many obstacles to make it to law school. This experience has helped me to truly understand the significant benefits of a diverse student culture. With countless different experiences, upbringings, and skills, each student at UF Law holds unique perspectives to share. Diversity is essential to foster a collaborative and healthy learning environment. As a diverse group with different obstacles and different strengths, I hope to help bind students together to collaborate and help each other so that we may all succeed. I aim to ensure that the online students feel as if they are truly a part of the UF Law community and that they are able to obtain the same benefits of networking and the same level of job opportunities as in-person students. I hope to effectuate this through working with the Student Bar Association and UF Law faculty to create virtual events, as well to maintain consistent and meaningful communication with our online friends through emails, phone calls, and direct messages. In the same manner, I hope to remove obstacles that low-income law students are faced with. One of the ways in which I hope to accomplish this is to work with the Student Bar Association to provide guidance to students on how to create a professional wardrobe on a limited budget. Finally, I hope to help maintain an environment in which students of every race and background feels safe to embrace their own culture. While this is a demanding feat, the Student Bar Association can take meaningful steps toward the goal by working with faculty on anti-racism training and events. Through an emphasis of embracing diversity, I aim to ensure that every student has the opportunity to become successful.

Zachary Blanton

My name is Zackary Blanton and I am running for SBA 1L Representative for section 5. If elected to serve as one of your 1L representatives, there are three goals I will look to accomplish this year: foster transparency, build connections, and support opportunities to grow professionally and academically. If elected, I want to ensure the experience of my fellow classmates is not altered due to the changing climate we are experiencing as our “new normal.” Now more than ever we will have to work hard to create an environment where everyone can be successful and reach their goals.
First of all, I want to ensure that we create a transparent culture between administration and students. I plan to do this by ensuring my section/class has a chance to have their ideas and concerns heard. I want to be a voice for my fellow classmates and make sure I am available as a resource for my peers. Furthermore, I want to make sure we continue to build connections, not only with other students, but also with faculty and alumni. As a former representative of my undergraduate Student Alumni Council, I worked to foster a community between students and alumni so that students had the opportunity to ask questions, get advice, and create lasting bonds with mentors. Additionally, I want to make sure that, even with everything changing around us, students still have an opportunity to connect with other classmates through events and organizations. If elected, I plan to work hard with fellow representatives to create virtual events so every student, online or in person, can safely and effectively connect with others in a meaningful way. No student should have to decide between sacrificing their health in order to create connections with students, faculty, and alumni. Moreover, I will work hard to help provide resources so students have the opportunity to grow professionally and academically. As someone who does not have many associations to the area of law, I want to make sure everyone has the same opportunities, no matter the background of the individual. Law school can create a competitive atmosphere and the fact is, not every student is on an equal playing field. If elected, I will work to help provide resources to prepare every student for life after law school and make sure every student is successful, no matter their goals.
Lastly, but most importantly, I am so proud of the diverse student body we have at UF Law. If elected, I want to work to ensure every voice is heard. I want to make sure we continue to promote diversity and inclusiveness so every student feels welcome. This will be a year unlike any other, but together and with a positive outlook I truly believe we can accomplish anything. Stay safe and thank you for your support!

Section 6

Jillian Carver

Hello! My name is Jillian Carver, and I hope to be chosen as one of the representatives for section six of the class of 2023. My goal is to somehow foster togetherness in a time when togetherness is discouraged. Many of us may feel alienated from our classmates, friends outside of school, or family due to the on-going COVID situation. In uncertain times, people come together to aid each other, and if we can’t do it in person, then we need to innovate and find ways to do it safely through an online format. I hope to help the SBA in this process of innovation. Student Organizations will be imperative in stopping students from becoming isolated. I want to be a support to my fellow first-year law students as we enter an already uncertain time in our lives with even more uncertainty than usual.

Danny Bencivenga

Hello all! My name is Danny Bencivenga and I am a 1L in Section 6. It is no secret that we are in unprecedented times, and that the Class of 2023 1L experience is fundamentally unique from years past. While the school’s administration has worked tirelessly to ensure we receive a 1L experience akin to past years, there is simply no way to capture all aspects of a typical year. In my view, our Class is missing out on valuable opportunities to form life-long connections, since our sections are much smaller than is customary. Of course, this has its advantages as well (chiefly, mitigating the risk of Covid); however, I believe we can, and should, do more to facilitate interactions between the six sections of our Class.

Evidently, this will require some unconventional thinking and planning in order to ensure such interactions are done in a safe manner. Above all, the health and safety of every student must be preserved. The stated mission of SBA is, “…to foster a collaborative, engaging educational, professional and social environment at UF Law that enhances students’ educational experience and prepares them to practice law.” (University of Florida Levin College of Law Student Bar Association, Constitution, Article II). My goal as an SBA representative will be to live up to this mission and ensure that a collaborative environment remains an integral part of our student experience. The most important part of being a representative for any organization, any mission, or any idea is to truly represent the voices of those around you. I pledge to ethically and enthusiastically represent my constituency, in order to foster the most constructive 1L experience we can have. I hope to earn your support going forward, and please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! As always, Go Gators!

Cathlyn Melvin

For the last decade, I’ve worked in highly collaborative environments as an actor, teaching artist, and small business owner. I’ve led project teams of up to 80 members with participants ranging from adult professionals to 5-year-old children. Throughout this work, I’ve noticed a critical through-line: the importance of empathy and open communication.

As I serve my section and class as an SBA representative, I hope to build on the values that both support and are supported by these important tools.

Grit, tenacity, and courage in small and big moments
As law students, we are practicing every day for our eventual roles as advocates. But we don’t need “Esq.” on our business cards to stand up for each other and our communities. As a representative of Section 6, I hope to not only lend my voice and my heart to the issues affecting my classmates, but to embolden my fellow students to lift their own voices as well. Current concerns include:
• Technology: Ensuring that technology available to the remote classrooms is being used to its best performance to ensure a quality, uninterrupted educational experience for in-person and remote students
• Communication: Building upon the existing Slack development to provide a robust environment for student communications, providing accessible and informative channels that allow students the choice to remove themselves from Facebook without harm to their law school experience
Open, kind, straightforward communication
Even when (especially when) it’s the harder choice to make. In an industry valuing brevity and efficiency, it’s important we find the humanity within that efficiency, leading with compassionate communication even in adversarial environments. As an advocate for the 1L class and for Section 6, I plan to follow the principles of Kim Scott’s theory of Radical Candor (sometimes referred to as “compassionate candor”) to facilitate open, honest, and solution-oriented communication.

Purposeful positivity
I believe in the importance of finding joy in small things and actively, purposely shaping a “good life”—whatever that means to each individual! I’d love to use SBA as a vehicle to help UF Law students shape their own “good life” through activities that develop positivity and solution-building in our everyday lives, both as law students and in the future as attorneys.

Curiosity, wonder, adventure, and play
As we turn pages of textbooks, sweat over cold-calls, and slog through outlines, it can be easy to forget that we are “in” law school and not “of” law school. Even in our first three weeks, 1Ls have been feeling the effects of overwhelm and overwork. Left unchecked, this lifestyle can quickly lead to burnout. I’m hopeful that as an SBA representative I can encourage workshops and other activities that provide well-earned “brain-breaks” while still fulfilling a purpose in our educational journey by simultaneously guiding us in our personal and professional development pursuits.

Cats, crayons, and ice cream
If I can manage to fit those into the Section 6 SBA experience, I sure will.
I look forward to serving Section 6 as an SBA representative this year.

Candidate for Transfer Representative

Dylan Beitel

My name is Dylan Beitel and I am running to be the 2020-2021 Transfer Representative for SBA. I am an incoming transfer student from Nova Southeastern University. During these unprecedent times I believe that a strong representative is needed in SBA in order to allow us transfer students to better assimilate into the UF Law community. My main goal as Transfer Representative is to be able to provide a platform for all transfer students to speak about whatever they may need, whether it be more social events or extended library hours. I aim to serve the transfer students here at the University of Florida. In today’s current climate, we regularly see people’s voices marginalized and I refuse to allow that to happen to the transfer students. Each person that attends UF deserves to be heard regardless of the background or beliefs and I promise to listen and take each and every concern under advisement. Every student’s opinion is valuable and should have an equal voice. In addition to providing a platform and being available for all students to voice their concerns I hope to help ease Transfer Students’ transition into the UF Community. I hope to foster this transition by bringing more social events hosted by SBA, in person and virtual, to the UF Law community. These events will allow each transfer student the opportunity to make valuable connections with students outside of those that also transferred. I aim to provide more opportunities to the Transfer Students than those already available and represent the entire transfer student body, not just those I agree with. As someone who has many years of experience representing students, I believe that I am the perfect candidate to represent every transfer student here at the University of Florida Levin College of Law. My whole goal is to provide transparency and truly represent the needs of all the transfer students and with your vote I believe I can help transform UF Law into an even better institution than it already is! Go Gators!