Tyler Dowden- Secretary
Tyler Dowden is currently pursuing his Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Law at Northern Arizona University. His hometown of Yuma, Arizona is known as “the hottest city in America,” and assisted in his decision to attend NAU. But the prospect of cooler weather was not the only appealing aspect of attending Flagstaff’s university; Tyler felt that NAU was a great place for him to pursue his interest in student government and the promotion of education.
It was not until Tyler encountered Arizona Students’ Association through NAU’s student government that he became familiar with ASA’s enthusiasm and care for Arizona’s students. What started as a journey to participate solely in student government led Tyler to join ASA and dedicate his full attention the organization. Tyler is now secretary of ASA and plays an active role in educating students about the legislative issues that affect them. He believes he is in a position not only to educate his peers, but to enlighten and empower them to take action regarding the important issues they face. In addition, he is the ASA representative on the United States Students Association Board of Directors which gives a national perspective to student issues and student solutions.
Tyler believes that many students fail to recognize legislative problems that affect their access to education, their quality of education, and opportunities within their education. For this reason, Tyler makes voicing issues a priority, in hopes of bringing awareness into a larger population of his peers. Tyler envisions ASA as an organization that takes a holistic approach to viewing students. He challenges fellow members of ASA to consider what it takes to be a student, such as their work, family, scheduling situations, and more. An all-encompassing viewpoint such as this is a reminder that students have responsibilities beyond school, and that balancing such responsibilities may be difficult at times. Tyler urges others to also consider what it takes to obtain an education, including minority access to education and unavoidable student debt. His outlook is a refreshing one, and by bringing such thinking into ASA, the organization can better function to serve the needs of students.
In the future, Tyler hopes to work in the political nonprofit sector. He has considered joining the Peace Corp and plans to continue focusing on student rights and activism. As such, Tyler enjoys a quote by Marianne Williamson: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure… And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” Tyler’s most basic desire is to give back to the people who have helped him become who he is today. His education and participation in organizations such as ASA help him make this possible.
Written By: Haley Jones
The Story of ASA
The Arizona Students’ Association is an organization that represents the collective interest of 150,000 university students and over 400,000 community college students in Arizona. We seek to engage and empower students through three core components.
Here is what we do:
ASA works to represent student issues to elected and appointed officials from Arizona to Washington D.C. ASA works directly with the Arizona Board of Regents, University Administrations, both State and Federal Legislators, City Councils, Arizona’s Governor, and the Secretary of State.
ASA ensures that students are given the tools they need to be successful in running Direct Action Organizing campaigns on and off campus. Every year, ASA works to build student power through voter registration, education and GOTV. We know that students voting have the greatest affect on elected officials. In the spring, students organize campaigns to win victories in the state legislature and engage in those campaigns through tactics such as collecting letters and postcards to training students to lobby, to holding huge rallies and protests.
Because students are constantly graduating and moving on, the student movement is strengthened by strong leadership development work. ASA hosts two annual conferences, the Conference of Arizona Student Leaders every fall and Lobby Con every spring. To ensure that Arizona students are well trained for campaigns, we host credited internships for college students and even have some advanced in-office internships that focus on government affairs and communications. Our goal is that students that go through our program are well prepared to enter the job market and are aware of the multitude of career opportunities within advocacy work.
Here is how we do it:
ASA is a student-led organization in which our Board of Directors is comprised of 12 elected and appointed student leaders from across the state. With full-time staff and three separate campus internships to support advocacy work, ASA seeks to have a constant presence on the ground and at the Capitol.
Tej Reddy- Internal Vice Chairperson of the Board
Serving as Vice Chair and Chair of Internal Affairs is Tej Reddy, an enthusiastic and dedicated member of the Arizona Students’ Association. Tej became involved with ASA through The Graduate and Professional Student Association (GPSA) at Arizona State University, which he became a part of through his pursuit of a Master’s Degree in Education. He earned two Bachelor’s degrees from Oregon’s Willamette University in the fields of Economics and Political Science, with a minor Environmental Science. Tej served as Student Body President, participated in the debate team, and acted as a leading member of his fraternity at Willamette. Tej is currently a member of Teach for America; he teaches mathematics and statistics at Agua Fria High School, where he also organizes the speech and debate team. During his free time, Tej volunteers at a community center, facilitating recreational classes for at-risk youth.
Tej has made growing ASA’s membership his first mission as a board member. He believes that shaping ASA’s infrastructure in such a way that builds relationships is a key component to building a membership base for the association. Of his many concerns for education, Tej is most concerned about the government’s failure to respond to students, particularly in terms of the student debt load. Tej enjoys working with members of ASA to build a larger vision of promoting accessible education—something he believes is critical for those representing higher education. As Chair of Internal Affairs, Tej ensures that ASA’s internal operations are sound and participates in the process of setting and enforcing new ethical standards for the organization. The implementation of a new organizational constitution is one method he is working on, as a combined effort among members of the organization. Tej encourages people to embrace positive change and discourages apprehension about change.
Tej considers himself as a facilitator of an inclusive organization. He always encourages open communication and urges people to come forward with their ideas. He responds to the cares of others when they express them, creating a forum for discussion. Tej respects Gandhi’s vision, believing that Gandhi embodies the idea of being true to oneself and to others. Particularly with Tej’s passion for education, Gandhi’s advice to be the face of change is appropriate. With this, Tej remarked, “Leadership is about being a role model. ASA affects a whole mass of students. There is no limit to what we can achieve.” As an inclusive organization made up of a diverse population, ASA certainly does empower leaders in the community. Tej believes that advocating for students is important, but that empowering students is of greater value in today’s society.
Written by: Haley Jones
Zach Brooks- UA Graduate Director
Zachary Brooks is a board member for the Arizona Students’ Association and is a PhD Candidate at University of Arizona. He studies Second Language Acquisition and Cognitive Science in hopes of better understanding the manners in which people interact and communicate. As an undergraduate in Kansas, Zachary studied Political Science and History where he played soccer and remained actively involved. Today, Zachary is Graduate Student Body President of Graduate Professional Student Council (GPSC) at UA as well as Western Regional Chair at National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. He enjoys working with these organizations because they reinforce his efforts to stand up for students who are in vulnerable positions.
Zachary is aware of the issues affecting graduate students and aspires to bring about solutions to these issues. He recognizes that many graduate students have the need to support their families and children. With the incredible work graduate students do in their programs, Zachary believes that graduate students should be better supported in their academic endeavors, in order to better support their families. As part of GPSC, Zachary advocates for initiatives such as graduate student fee refunds for his peers. In this example, the student government was recently able to secure $150 in refunds per student. In an education system where finances greatly impact student success, graduate students take notice of the organizations and people advocating for improved student funding.
Ultimately, Zachary’s participation in groups like the Arizona Students’ Association makes collaboration among student advocacy groups stronger. He remarked on this by saying, “My involvement with ASA is worthwhile because I get to work with and learn from other student leaders from throughout the state; it is an honor to represent 550,000 university and community college students.” Zachary advocates not only for students in Arizona, but for students in all areas of the U.S.
Written by: Haley Jones