Alejandrina Guzman shattered a glass ceiling March 9 when she became the first Latina student body president at UT, as well as the first physically differently abled student body president in the Big 12 — and she’s ready to build a legacy for her successors.
“It’s a domino effect,” said Guzman, a Mexican-American studies and government senior. “I think about the past and all the people that have worked so hard for people in the future like me to even get an opportunity to do this.”
Guzman knew she wanted to make a difference when she wasn’t accepted into a sorority in fall 2014. Guzman said she heard the organization couldn’t handle someone wheelchair-bound. A year later, Guzman rushed the sorority again, dropping the day of her acceptance, and was invited to join the Hispanic Student Association three days later.
“That was kind of eye-opening because that was discrimination,” Guzman said. “The thing that hit me the most was both fall 2014 and fall 2015 (semesters), because I felt devalued, I felt like I wasn’t good enough, and from then, I was like, ‘I don’t want other students to feel like that.’”
Guzman said she plans to set the tone of open-mindedness and inclusiveness on her first day in office.
“We want to make sure that on that first day, we publicize a lot of all the support that’s out there,” Guzman said. “This will inspire and motivate other students to go for it and to pursue their passions, know their dreams are absolutely valid and that they’re not alone.”
Student vice president-elect Micky Wolf, Plan II and business honors junior, said Guzman’s personality, her ability to uplift others and the way she spreads positivity are her most unique aspects.
“The way that she carries herself while still carrying such a weight is unbelievably impressive and inspiring,” Wolf said. “She understands it’s not about her. It’s about everybody that down the line will hopefully have a greater opportunity because of the foundation she’s going to lay, and I think that’s huge.”
Guzman is involved in Orange Jackets, Hispanic Student Association, League of United Latin American Citizens, Disability and Inclusion Agency for Student Government, Latino Community Affairs and Friar Society, the oldest honor society at UT.
“Looking at all the stuff I’ve done now, I think it has guided me and (taught me) how to speak up and know that silence is also a stance,” Guzman said. “The different walks of life that I’ve been able to interact with — I think that’s been the best part of it all.”
Advertising senior Erasto Renteria, director of operations at the Multicultural Engagement Center, sent Guzman the Facebook invitation to join the Hispanic Student Association in fall 2015. Renteria said Guzman is one of the most dedicated, hardest workers he has seen at UT.
“The work she puts in, the late nights, all the things she really wants to implement is a testament to her hard work,” Renteria said. “She’s just like a ball of empowerment, the way she talks to her peers and to our friends and people in general and students. … Somehow she can do it very easily.”
Guzman said she hopes to work in student affairs and education policy later in her career.