Olivia Vejcik ’20, president of the class of 2020, on leadership at this time

Olivia Vejcik ’20 is a politics major and economics minor from Oak Park, Illinois. The president of the class of 2020, Vejcik is currently living on campus. She spoke with Sasha Nyary on April 16, 2020.

What does leadership look like to you at this unprecedented time? 

I am the class president of 2020. At this time of unrest and uncertainty, leadership looks like someone stepping up and taking actions to make decisions to keep our community together. It means responding to every email that I get and trying to provide as much information and reassurance as possible. Really being there for my community and my class, especially as seniors, and working tirelessly for them. 

What are you working on specifically in your role as class president?  

As we come into our final weeks, I and my class board are working with various administrative policy groups to determine Commencement options for our class to make sure we receive the celebration and triumph that we deserve in regard to graduation. I am also still meeting with my class board every week to discuss what we can do to preserve senior traditions. We’re looking at revising our constitutional bylaws right now and we’re also organizing the purchase of senior merchandise. And of course answering every student’s email that is being directed toward us at this time.

illustration by Marina Li of a college student carrying a yellow banner leading three others through a maze,

What have you learned about leadership during your time at Mount Holyoke? 

During my time here I have learned that having a supportive team behind you is so important to being a leader. I have been so blessed to have a strong and competent board that allows me to play off everyone’s individual talents and strengths. I have also learned to not be afraid to be confident in my own individual leadership style, and to really lean into that. The students in my class elected me to be myself and carry that particular set of talents and skills into this position. And it’s important to remember that even when you may feel pressure to act in a different way, or take on a different leadership style, your own leadership style is just as important and just as valued. 

What support have you gotten from the College? 

The support I’ve gotten from the College comes from a wide range of different people. One of those people most definitely is our senior class board advisor Alicia Erwin, who has been non-stop there for us, at every single meeting. Every single question that we have she’s always there with the resources and ideas. If she doesn’t know she’ll bring it to the next person who does. That has been amazing. She’s been such a mentor to me in this leadership role, helping me figure out leading my class, working with my class board. In general, the Division of Student Life, and  all the people who work there, including residential life, have been really great with helping me develop leadership. 

What does it mean to you to be a leader at this time? 

I think at this time it’s important to be the most empathetic person you can, and to have faith and confidence in your community that you will get through this. I think at this time, this position calls upon the ability to have courage as a leader to see through the troubling times that may be ahead. But just as importantly, to see the light at the end of the tunnel. And remind those around you that we are going to get through this. It means saying I am here for you, I am not leaving, and we are going to get through this. 

Illustration by Marina Li of five college students working together with giant colorful building blocks