Hailee O’Dell, former student government president and soon-to-be graduate of SIUE, has made an impact on her fellow students and hopes to continue to do so after graduating.
O’Dell said she has been involved in student government since high school, and was the senator for the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior before her term as president from 2021 to 2022.
“I ran for president my sophomore year,” O’Dell said. “I just really loved it, putting on events for students, having a voice [and] not feeding into the negative conversations, but rather turning that into something productive and taking it to administration.”
O’Dell said she was sure to listen to the students regarding their wants and needs on campus during her time as president. In this way, O’Dell said she felt she was making a positive impact out of the issues she was listening for.
“One of the things that we really wanted to accomplish that year was the creation of a syllabus bank … where you could see the syllabus of a course you were signing up for before you signed up,” O’Dell said. “A couple senators and I, a team of people, talked to faculty senate, talked to the provost, [but] with the turnover of a chancellor and all that, it was kind of hard to get all of that done in one year, but it is something that I continuously have conversations with the current chancellor when I get the chance.”
O’Dell said the syllabus bank idea was also prompted by analyzing the percentage of students who receive a D or F or withdraw from a course, also known as the university’s DFW rates.
O’Dell also said she emphasized mental health initiatives in her time as president, and hopes that student government will continue many of these plans.
“[We did] whatever we could do to improve mental health on this campus,” O’Dell said. “One of the schools in St. Louis had their third suicide in one year, and we were really big on being proactive rather than reactive to mental health.”
O’Dell said that, through meetings with counseling services and administration, she was able to get the concept of mental health days on the university’s radar. She said that the student government is also still pushing for a “dead week” where professors cannot assign large assignments in the week before finals.
“Another thing we were successful on was that we wanted to cut out the requirement that you had to be enrolled in classes over the summer in order to work on campus,” O’Dell said. “Departments were losing their student employees because they couldn’t hire them again, because they weren’t students, and students lost their jobs over the summer.”
O’Dell stayed active in student government after her term as president finished, getting elected to the position of student trustee.
“I have had the opportunity [for] lots of networking with the chancellor and the president of the system,” O’Dell said. “If I’m hearing things [from students], I can go directly to them now as trustee rather than jumping through all these hoops. It’s been … empowering, learning how things run around universities and the system in particular.”
O’Dell said she plans on working towards her master’s degree in business administration, as well as holding a graduate assistantship position. She said she is still undecided about her future career, but that she is looking to combine her business administration knowledge with her psychology background.
“Right now, I’m leaning towards the business world,” O’Dell said. “I’m a marketing strategist, [and] possibly going into industrial and organizational psychology, which is psychology of the workplace. I’m kind of keeping an open mind as opportunities come to me. That’s how I got this job — it just fell in my lap.”
O’Dell said she looks forward to finishing off her semester by giving a speech at her graduation, as well as being a member of the platform party.
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