According to business guru Peter Drucker, management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things. Two UTSA business students have been able to put those principles into practice by serving as the outgoing and incoming presidents of the UTSA Student Government Association.
Zack Dunn, a senior majoring in finance, spent the past two years leading the UTSA Student Government Association (SGA). He handed the reins over this spring to the incoming president Ileana Gonzalez.
Dunn has accomplished a lot during his time at UTSA. He was named Mr. UTSA and a 100 Best Business student; he joined the Investment Society and the Honors College; and he participated in UTSA’s Summer Law Academy and the Civil Rights and Social Justice trip sponsored by UTSA’s Student Leadership Center.
And, in the midst of that flurry of activity, he devoted almost 40 hours a week to his main role as president of SGA.
“When I first joined SGA I wanted to join an organization where I could simply make a difference in the lives of the people around me,” said Dunn. “I wanted to make the most of my time here.”
Dunn joined SGA his second semester on campus and held several leadership positions before running for president at the end of his sophomore year. During his first few semesters in SGA, he had compiled a 10-page list of things he wanted to improve or change at UTSA. That list became his campaign platform.
Following his campaign win, Dunn said that his life changed completely. “I realized that I’m speaking on behalf of 30,000 students,” he said. “You want to do it all for everyone, but you have to realize it’s all about prioritization.”
Accomplishments during his tenure included establishing a student-majority dining services committee, co-authoring the new SGA constitution and bylaws and working with the San Antonio City Council and the UTSA President’s Office to bring UTSA-branded street signs to the surrounding campus area.
“Leadership is about having the courage to make a difference and aligning your goals and expectations with those of the people around you,” he said.
Beyond his work in student government, Dunn is most proud of establishing the San Antonio Higher Education Representative Assembly, an organization that united student government leaders from across San Antonio. His work on that project became the basis for his final management project.
Beginning this fall Dunn will travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the UT System Archer Fellowship Program. Fellows participate in an internship experience and attend classes focusing on policy, history and advocacy. Upon his graduation in December, Dunn plans to attend law school and utilize law as a vehicle for positive change.
“UTSA is a land of opportunities,” said Dunn. “I know how blessed I am to have gone to UTSA and have the experiences I had. Being a Roadrunner is realizing that you are at a special university where anyone can succeed.”
Following in Dunn’s footsteps, Gonzalez, a senior majoring in entrepreneurship, has forged a different path at UTSA. Moving to the United States from Mexico when she was 14, Gonzalez entered timidly, but soon gained confidence through participation in school activities. Even a failed run as president of her high school class did not stop her passion.
Ironically Gonzalez almost didn’t become a Roadrunner. In August before classes began, she still had not received any financial aid. Without the financial support, her parents told her that she would need to attend community college instead. Not willing to give up on her dream, Gonzalez began calling UTSA every day looking for assistance.
Finally, two weeks before classes were set to begin, Gonzalez spoke with Lisa Blazer, senior associate vice president of student affairs, and received the assistance she so desperately needed.
“I wasn’t thinking about forging my legacy at UTSA,” said Gonzalez. “I just wanted to go to college. I thought it was about going to classes and developing academically. I wasn’t thinking about the extracurricular activities.”
Once she settled into her new college routine, Gonzalez joined student government and was overwhelmed by the support and mentorship she received from other student leaders. That summer her pathway was set following participation in the National Association of Campus Activities leadership conference and UTSA’s Leader Shape Institute.
“After attending LeaderShape I was able to identify my passions and values,” said Gonzalez. “Being named Ms. UTSA, studying abroad and representing UTSA as student body president became my major goals.”
Beginning this fall, Gonzalez has now accomplished each of her goals. She was elected president of SGA this spring. This summer she completed a College of Business immersion to Hong Kong and Taiwan, and last year she was crowned Ms. UTSA.
“The immersion program opened my mind to so many different things,” said Gonzalez. “I loved the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan, and I feel more prepared now for international business experiences.”
In addition to meeting her goals Gonzalez was also a member of the Business Student Council, served as a wrangler for the Rowdy mascot for two years and attended the prestigious University of California Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders the past two summers.
The institute offers undergraduates the chance to learn the principles of business development, entrepreneurship and other key management skills. She was one of 25 students chosen nationwide to participate.
“I feel honored to represent all UTSA students,” said Gonzalez, who will graduate next spring. “I look forward to forging strong relationships as president of SGA, developing my people skills and working to better UTSA. There are big things coming, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”