CHaSS Senator Naomi Ward is a multitasker with many activities and clubs under her belt.
In addition to her work through USUSA, she’s been a member of the speech and debate team, a housing resident assistant and even a member of the sorority Kappa Delta. In her free time, she loves to read, write and hike in Logan Canyon.
Her journey to become the senator of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences might have been a long one, but it put her where she is today.
“My freshman year, I wasn’t really involved,” Ward said. “I joined Kappa Delta and the debate team, but that was about it. The people I met through Greek life were very involved and encouraged me to apply for CHaSS council for the following school year.”
Ward said she felt very intimidated at first.
“I had no idea what it was or what I was doing, but the following year I also applied to be a CHaSS ambassador, which basically meant I did peer advising and recruitment,” she said. “I loved that so much, I asked myself, ‘What can I do next to get even more involved?’ Running for CHaSS senator really just felt like the next step.”
Emma Brain, Utah State’s service vice president, met Ward through Greek life when she joined Kappa Delta in her sophomore year. They also work together in the USUSA cabinet.
“Naomi is one of the kindest and most inclusive people I’ve ever met,” said Brain in an email. “Her well-roundedness knows no bounds. My life is better with Naomi in it.”
As the CHaSS senator, Ward is responsible for working with her council to put together events and respond to student feedback. She works with the dean and sits on the academic council with the senator from each of the colleges to discuss improvements and issues. Ward also sits on the Academic Opportunity Fund Council, where students can apply for funding for conferences or events.
“We are the ones who decide whether to approve or deny funding,” Ward said. “Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of art students applying for conferences, but we get students from all over.”
Most recently, Ward sits on the Facilities Enhancement Committee since CHaSS is responsible for library fees. She also serves on the Student Fee Board to discuss whether to increase student fees or charge fees for new things. At these meetings, the board listens to and tries to understand arguments students may have about fees.
“I would say the thing I do the most is communicating with my council,” said Ward. “Because I am the senator, planning things for my college is important.”
Hailing from Idaho, Ward is a senior this year at Utah State and is finding it a bit hard to imagine what her life will be like without it. She is majoring in communication studies and print journalism and recently added an English minor.
Matthew LaPlante, a professor in the journalism department, teaches a class about writing features and just met Ward this year. Despite that, he had strong feelings about Ward as a student.
“I heard about her from other professors in the department before I met her,” said LaPlante. “She had a good reputation as a hardworking student. On top of that, she is thoughtful, compassionate and always eager to learn, which should be the standard for every student but often is not. If she has shown me anything, it is how deeply she cares for marginalized groups of people, and I know that must transfer to the way she acts as a senator.”
LaPlante added that she is always engaged in conversations but is also a considerate listener. Professor Jennifer Peeples, one of Ward’s communication studies professor, agreed.
“Naomi is the student every professor wants in their class,” said Peeples. “She isn’t loud, but thoughtful when she answers a question. With time, her wit, engagement, friendliness and commitment to learning and to the university come through and you wonder how you missed all those things in the first place.”
Despite Ward’s love for both her studies and her job, sometimes it does get stressful.
“It gets hard because I have a pretty hard time saying no,” Ward said, “but I’m working on it. Sometimes I take on more than is probably healthy. In high school, I was involved in everything I could be involved in, so it’s always been a part of my life to be busy and involved. I do a lot of stuff but I feel like I’m getting better at prioritizing my mental health and my relationships. Work and school are important but you need a balance. This year has been better.”
Today, as well as being the CHaSS senator, Ward volunteers for Citizens Against Physical and Sexual Violence, or CAPSA, writes for the news section of the Utah Statesman and continues to be a sister in Kappa Delta. She spent the last two years as a resident assistant at the Living Learning Community where she got to know lots of people who look up to her, not only as a leader, but as a person.
Amanda Bevington, the senior director of the LLC, said that everyone wanted Naomi on their team due to the purpose she put into her work and the different perspectives she brought to the table.
“She really empathizes with others and strives to see situations from other viewpoints,” said Bevington. “She’s passionate about various issues on campus and in the world. Her willingness to educate is admirable.”
That’s something Ward hopes she’s doing as well, because she wants her position as CHaSS senator to leave an impact on Utah State. She credits her professors and her friends for her success and inspiration and is excited to see what the future holds.