Polytechnic students, get to know your 2016-17 executives

The Undergraduate Student Government Polytechnic campus executive ticket elect is a long time in the making. 

USGP President elect Ryan O'Hara first got to know his vice presidents, Sara Brancati and Mary Curtiss, when they came to USG as interns their freshman year. 

However, the three had not always been slated to take office together.

O'Hara was initially on an executive ticket last year with Curtiss and current Polytechnic President Eric Frazier, but he had to withdraw when the elections commission decided he couldn't simultaneously study abroad — his first priority — and hold executive office. 

So, O'Hara left to study in England, returning to find Frazier no longer interested in running for office once more, leaving a third spot open.

Brancati, whom O'Hara said he had seen develop as a student leader, was a natural choice. 

"It was really two years of deciding," he said.

Meet Ryan O'Hara

Polytechnic campus' recently elected Undergraduate Student Government President Ryan O'Hara said he came to ASU to get away from small town life

He grew up in a small city in rural Wisconsin, and his high school had a graduating class of around 180 people. 

O'Hara said the small circle fostered some less-than-pleasant attitudes.

"Everybody (at home) has this 'big fish in a small pond' mentality, and I didn't really like that," O'Hara said. 

So, O'Hara, a student government veteran since middle school, packed up his things and headed west to ASU. 

"I think it's helped me grow a lot more — being a small fish in a monster of a pond," he said. 

However, O'Hara said he did not enter as big of a monster pond as he was anticipating when he ditched the Tempe campus for ASU's significantly smaller Polytechnic campus.

"When I applied for (business technology) — I guess I didn't fully read through the description that it was at Polytechnic," he said. "After I got the acceptance letter, and saw 'Polytechnic,' I started to investigate a little more."

O'Hara said moving to Polytechnic was an easier adjustment because the campus matched the tight-knit environment he'd grown used to, while still allowing him a change of scenery.

"I think the best advantage of Polytechnic is the great feel of community we have," he said. "It's really easy to get to know people. You're walking down one of the malls on campus and you see maybe 15 people that you know."

O'Hara is more than just a student politician. His other great passion is sports, especially soccer. During his time in England, O'Hara grew to love the sport, though, despite living in Manchester, he did not develop an allegiance to either Manchester City or Manchester United. 

He's a Chelsea F.C. fan, and O'Hara said it has been a rough season so far. However, like with his incoming presidency, he is optimistic about the club's future. 

Meet Mary Curtiss

O'Hara's vice president of policy elect, Mary Curtiss, took a similar path to ASU when she moved to the University from a small high school in Michigan.

"I wanted to branch out and try something new," she said. "I knew ASU was a really great school for business, so I wanted to come to ASU because of all the resources and great programs. The weather was also a factor."

Like O'Hara, Curtiss was originally limited to the Polytechnic campus because of the major she initially chose: Health systems management. However, she has since changed to a more flexible major of business management and supply chain management, and said she has no plans of switching.

She said she fell in love with Polytechnic for what she said is its community feel and overall potential.

"From a leadership standpoint, there's so much room to grow on Poly," she said. "We're really trying to expand things, and that gives us an opportunity to be a part of that and to help gain leadership experience."

Meet Sara Brancati 

O'Hara's vice president of services elect, Sara Brancati, is somewhat of an outlier. She's an Arizona native, but, as the youngest of five, she said she is as equally influenced by her large family as O'Hara and Curtiss are by theirs.

"Right now, there's four of us at ASU, so coming here was kind of a no-brainer," she said. "I was sticking with the family tradition, I've always wanted to be a Sun Devil, I wanted to follow my older siblings' footsteps — I didn't apply anywhere else, actually."

Brancati is a human resources sophomore — a major only offered at the Polytechnic campus, but she said she wouldn't rather be anywhere else. 

"After I toured, I just wanted to stay here," she said. "There's this atmosphere at Poly that's just really friendly and warm, and I knew this was the place for me. I wanted that intimate learning environment."

Meet the USGP Ticket Elect

O'Hara's executive ticket is very comfortable with the concept of community, which was one of their biggest talking points during campaign season.

To O'Hara, this means keeping programming high, but giving power to individual clubs and organizations to hold events for the community, rather than USG running it all. He said this would take some restructuring, but it would help students who feel burned out.

"We plan on fostering these relationships with Changemaker, RHA, PAB so that we're working as a collective unit," he said. 

Long term, the O'Hara ticket agreed that Poly will remain a community, though they each hope so see the campus undergo a significant amount of growth. 

"I think the Polytechnic that we see today is vastly different from the Poly that we will see 10 years from now," he said. "And I'm very excited for it. We're only going to continue to strengthen our relationships. As long as we can ensure that we have student government officials that are really passionate about the campus, and about the direction and vision we all have, I really think the possibilities are endless."

Related links:

Voting Guide: Polytechnic USG Presidential Election

Ticket added to Undergraduate Student Government Polytechnic ballot


Reach the reporter at Arren.Kimbel-Sannit@asu.edu or follow @akimbelsannit on Twitter.

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