New Scholarship Established in Honor of First Latinx Student Body President
Jackie Gonzalez (political science ‘18) and Mitchell Moravec (materials science and engineering, psychology ’18 and M.P.A. ’20) formed a strong friendship through their involvement in Student Government. Ironically, though, their friendship stemmed from being on opposite sides of a debate on the student senate floor.
“The first time I saw Mitchell was when I attended an all-candidates meeting when I first decided to run for Student Senate in spring of 2015, and Mitchell led the info session,” Gonzalez recalled. “We didn’t formally meet until later on, and we actually were adversaries as Mitchell proposed a bill to get rid of Wolfpack Students, the NC State community Facebook group formerly run by Student Government. The bill came through the committee I was chairing, and thus, our friendship formed out of an adversarial bill process.”
Gonzalez and Moravec eventually found common ground and formed a lasting friendship. Gonzalez later became NC State’s first Latinx student body president during the 2017-18 academic year, and Moravec served as the Student Senate President in both the 2017-18 and the 2019-20 academic year.
They both reconnected with NC State this year when Moravec made a gift to establish a new scholarship named in Gonzalez’s honor. The new Jackie Gonzalez Comunidad Latinx Scholarship Endowment will benefit students who have demonstrated a commitment to the Latinx community and live in a rural North Carolina community. Distributions from the fund will provide need-based scholarships for students pursuing an undergraduate degree at NC State.
“This fund was an important intersection for me to support two components of NC State: the university that invested so much in me to succeed, and the people and mentors that were critical to my learning and growth,” Moravec said. “Jackie Gonzalez is the perfect example of someone in my NC State story that challenged and supported me as we grew together through Student Government. Her leadership as a strong but fair student leader and advocate for students is a necessary lesson for us all to admire and learn from, which led me to using my resources to honor her. Her legacy must not be forgotten or overlooked in the future of NC State, and I am grateful to have attended NC State during her time on campus.”
Gonzalez was not surprised about Moravec’s gift to NC State. However, she was surprised to find out it was made in her honor.
“Mitchell has always been a very giving person in general,” she said. “He pours into organizations, in friendships, he volunteers, and the list goes on. He also understands the importance of giving financially where you can. I knew NC State was always at the forefront of his mind, but I had no idea that he was even remotely thinking of giving a gift in my honor, let alone establishing an entire scholarship. We both share a deep love for NC State, Student Government and our community as a whole.
“We want to put in the hard work to make the spaces we are in more equitable,” Gonzalez continued. “The scholarship is a living testament to our friendship and our values. The gift may have come from Mitchell, and it could have my name on it, but it’s so much more. It’s an opportunity for Latinx students to thrive. It’s a message of hope to my community. It means so much to me that Mitchell was able to recognize that need in my own community and support it.”
Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Since earning his undergraduate degrees from NC State in 2018, Moravec has continued his education at NC State and completed a master’s degree in public administration in 2020. He enthusiastically volunteers in the Triangle area’s nonprofit sector and is eager to start a career in that field.
“Acknowledging the privileges and responsibilities I have been given as a young graduate, I felt it was important to immediately address the problems of equity and access to education for populations that have historically been excluded,” Moravec explained. “This gift is by no means the solution to this systemic problem, but I hope it represents the importance of showing up for making a difference and inspires others who have the ability to support similar direct impact solutions as we correct and rectify our university’s priorities and resources for students of all backgrounds and identities.”
Moravec served six years in Student Government, including his two terms as student senate president. His first term was during Gonzalez’s presidency.
“As much as I could ramble on the specifics of legislation I supported or events we put on as an organization, I am most proud of the leadership style I brought to the role and to the university at large,” he said. “I learned the value of showing up as my authentic self to whatever rooms or committees I was in, and I believe people took note of that. I developed real and lasting relationships with university administrators, campus units and fellow student leaders. I can honestly reflect on my time and know that I inspired a more positive reputation and credibility of Student Government, and left behind the organization better than I found it.”
Since graduating from NC State in 2018, Gonzalez has stayed in politics and worked on several statewide political campaigns. She is currently working at the General Assembly with State Senator Sarah Crawford of Wake and Franklin counties.
During her service in NC State Student Government, Gonzalez, too, focused on leaving the university in a better position than she had found it, particularly in the realm of diversity, equity and inclusion. One of her proudest accomplishments was coming together with other student leaders in the aftermath of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. in 2017.
“It was a moment of listening and being able to use my position to tell our Board of Trustees and administrators what students needed from them,” Gonzalez said. “Since 2018, we’ve seen it be kind of the norm to say Black Lives Matter and calling out white supremacy, but even in 2018 it was kind of a touchy subject for a lot of administrators, and it still is for some, unfortunately. But it was important for me to have a deeper conversation with these student leaders, and to share those with the administrators and the NC State community as a whole. It was not a one-and-done accomplishment. It was an ongoing conversation that happened before me, and is happening after me. It was not my own accomplishment. In fact, I think the greatest accomplishments one can have are ones shared with others.”
Gonzalez said serving as NC State’s first Latinx student body president was an incredible honor.
“I decided to run for student body president before I even knew that I would be the first of anything,” Gonzalez said. “First-generation Americans carry a lot of hope and sacrifice that our families and communities have made. Everything I do was not just for me, but for my parents who immigrated here to give me a better life, and to my community that helped shape me.”
A Lasting Impact on the Latinx Community
Sheri Schwab, vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, said new scholarships like this one are essential in assisting NC State’s diverse student population.
“It is wonderful to see the many new scholarships, such as this one, that have been created to help enhance our university’s efforts to provide much needed financial support to our students,” Schwab said. “This scholarship in particular is noteworthy because it focuses on supporting student leaders, and it supports the great potential and highlights the many contributions of our Latinx students and community here at NC State. As our Latinx population continues to grow here, we want to keep building on the diversity, equity and inclusion efforts that the Office for Institutional Equity and Diversity and its partners across our university champion every day.”
Doneka Scott, vice chancellor and dean of the Division of Academic and Student Affairs, added that gifts from recent alumni like Moravec and Gonzalez set a great example for others.
“Mitchell’s gift exemplifies how recent alumni can have a major impact on our students and our student organizations,” Scott said. “He and Jackie had already left a remarkable legacy through their achievements in Student Government, and now they will inspire future students to not only attend college, but also become leaders and agents of change on our campus. We are incredibly grateful for this gift and the opportunities it will provide for our Latinx students.”
Learn more about giving opportunities and how you can make a difference at https://dasa.ncsu.edu/about/giving/.
This post was originally published in DASA.