Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Student Rachel Yenko-Martinka was Named President of Widener University

Chester, Pa. -- Widener University in Chester, Pa. appointed an undergraduate student as president of the university – for a day.

Rachel Yenko-Martinka, a senior biology (pre-vet) major and business management minor from Hopkins, Minn. served as President-for-a-Day at Widener last week on March 26. Yenko-Martinka was the 12th student president of the university, a tradition started by Dr. James T. Harris III when he became president of Widener in 2002.

Yenko-Martinka was selected from among three finalists who gave presentations to a selection committee based on what issue they would address if they were president of the university. Yenko-Martinka addressed the issue of depression among students on a college campus. She believes it is important for students to be aware of the resources available on campus to help prevent and address any issues they may have.

As President-for-a-Day, Yenko-Martinka had the opportunity to take action on this platform. She met with the Crisis Management to discuss who students can get more involved with marketing of existing resources. She also met with the leaders of the pluralism campaign at the university where she helped formulate the vision for a task force to take the lead on implementing an awareness campaign.

“Meeting people in positions of power in the school was the most enlightening part of the day,” Yenko-Martinka said. “When I actually met them, they were so supportive of the cause and trying to make a genuine positive change at Widener. That was very, very encouraging as a student, and for the future of the university.”

As if her day wasn’t busy enough, Yenko-Martinka also met with a potential donor, made an admissions decision (she accepted them), and spent time with the mayor of Chester.

While Yenko-Martinka was running the university, President Harris assumed her schedule, including psychology class, voice lessons, student meetings, and lunch her friends. He will even be sported her “blue-tipped hairdo.”

According to President Harris, the President-for-a-Day initiative gives students hands-on leadership experience and an inside look at how a university operates. For him, it’s an opportunity to see the university from an undergraduate student perspective and to engage the student population in an informal setting.

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