Downtown students, get to know your 2016-17 executives

The slogan for the 2016-17 Undergraduate Student Government Downtown executive ticket "The Power of You" was emblazoned across posters and social media feeds during elections.

However, the campaign began with the power of three individuals who seek to improve the Downtown campus.

President elect Jackson Dangremond said his collaboration with his two political partners — vice president of policy elect Jimmy Arwood and vice president of services Ernesto Hernandez — traces to two friendships in Dangremond's college life both with last year's president, Frank Smith.

Dangremond shared an economics class with Smith his freshman year. Dangremond said there were open positions and asked Smith how to get involved, leading him to his current position. 

Meet Jackson Dangremond

A Phoenix-area native, USGD president elect Jackson Dangremond knew ASU was the best one for him. 

"There were so many opportunities that I didn't even know about prior to attending ASU, but now that I've gotten my feet wet, I'm really happy, and I know this is the place I need to be," he said.

In high school, Dangremond was set on studying film. He said he applied to film schools across the country, before deciding to go to the ASU to study documentary filmmaking.

But things weren't working out.

"I didn't really find myself being that engaged in any of my classes," he said. 

In one specific class, he said he found the grading inconsistent and the teaching unhelpful. This soured the taste of journalism for him. 

He said things changed when he took a biology class, and saw how the scientific method was applied to solve problems in creative ways. This piqued his interest in the sciences, specifically in health.

So, he took the same creative drive that drove him to filmmaking, his deep-seated urge to help others and switched to healthcare innovation.

Meet Jimmy Arwood 

Few on ASU's downtown campus aren't already familiar with vice president of policy elect Jimmy Arwood. 

His mile-high curly blond afro — which he recently cut off — made him difficult to miss, but without it, Arwood's leadership still shines. 

Arwood established the student organization Students for Affordable Tuition, held an internship with Congressman Ruben Gallego, works with the voting rights group Andrew Goodman Foundation and advocates relentlessly at the State Capitol for more educational funding and decreased tuition.

Despite this experience, Arwood, a public policy sophomore, has never held a USG position. However, he wouldn't be the first in his family to hold office — his father, Jim, was director of energy under former Arizona governors Janet Napolitano and Jan Brewer. 

However, Arwood said he didn't fully realize his father's impact at the time.

"I was so young at the time that it didn't really hit me how important of a position that was, and really how much power he had," Arwood said. "Looking back on it, it's really cool to think about — my dad was the man."

Arwood said he is not set on politics, despite the attention he gives it now. 

"I don't know how much I really like politics," he said. "What I do enjoy is making people who don't have a voice feel like they have a voice."

However, he said political interests changed when the state made significant cuts to education.

"Last year, there was $99 million in budget cuts," he said. "That's what sparked my interest in being involved in education. I had friends who were affected. It became much more of a personal issue then."

Arwood said fighting for affordable tuition is a long-term investment in humanity's well being.

"It's about fighting for (students) and their welfare," he said. "All of our success is interconnected. I believe we can create a better country through education." 

Ultimately, though, he is more than a politician. In fact, the ever-jovial Arwood said he struggles more often to be taken seriously than the other way around. 

"I'm one of those people who would be happy in any situation," he said.

Meet Ernesto "Ernie" Hernandez

USGD Vice President of Services elect Ernie Hernandez stands out from the rest of his ticket in several ways.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, he is the only member of his ticket from outside Arizona, he's the only one to hold a position as a college senator before assuming an executive position and — perhaps most notably — the only freshman on the ticket. 

Despite being in his first year at the University as a public policy student, Hernandez is not coming into a student services position blind.

In high school, he worked extensively with the Los Angeles Police Department to conduct programs, increase awareness, and work on community policing with the student body — experience he said is valuable in today's climate of police brutality.

Through his work with LAPD, Hernandez piloted an organization called the Teen Police Advisory Board, which provided a safe space for young people to express their thoughts and concerns about police and get feedback from law enforcement, he said. 

When he came to college, this involvement grew into a passion for student government, which prompted him to take on a position as a senator.

Earlier in April, Hernandez was hit with a nonfeasance charge under USGD's three-strike rule for not completing weekly activity reports, not gathering adequate feedback on the student programming fee increase and not posting meeting minutes of the committee he chairs. 

"I was given nonfeasance for not doing a few tasks that I was supposed to do," he said. "I didn't have the balance with work and academics." 

He said he became overwhelmed with his schedule and lost sight of why he came to the University in the first place: for academics. 

"I'm a student first, and not a student representative," he said. "I didn't come to ASU to be in student government."

Meet the USGD Ticket

Dangremond plans to fully embrace his campaign slogan on a longterm scale. 

"What we really want to do is harness the potential of every student on the downtown campus," he said. "We want to give our students what they need to be great leaders."

This means teaching them civic engagement, making them more aware of the issues that affect them, and helping them take full advantage of the resources available at the University. 

Dangremond has lofty expectations for the future of the downtown campus, far beyond the scope of his presidency. 

"The downtown campus will expand," he said. "And my hope is that it will become the main hub of ASU." 

Dangremond does not just mean it will expand literally. Rather, he said that it comes from the accomplishments of its students. 

"It will stem from the products of this campus: leaders, professionals, kind people," he said. "Creating a generation of strong leaders, the reputation for the downtown (Phoenix) campus will grow. I strongly believe that the ASU downtown campus will grow past its physical bounds as its students take its legacy into the field."

Reach the reporter at or follow @akimbelsannit on Twitter.

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