Victoria Smith reflects on her time at Washburn

Victoria Smith is a fifth-year senior at Washburn University. She is a music double performance major with an emphasis in violin and voice. In addition to working, reading, playing video games, and hanging out with her four-year-old Rottweiler, she is the president of the Washburn Student Government Association or WSGA.
“I am really passionate about social rights and social justice, music, making change and just making sure my life has purpose instead of me just floating by,” Smith said.
To make sure she did not float by, Smith became involved through various clubs and organizations throughout her college career.
“I did four years in Sigma Alpha Iota and went to alumni status to focus on WSGA,” Smith said. “I am the vice president of Mortar Board Senior Honor Society and I am the vice president and noble founder of Gamma Phi Omega International Sorority Incorporated. I was also a peer educator for a while.”
From these involvements, Smith was able to gain experience in leadership and life.
“One of my biggest goals is to sing at the Metropolitan Opera- that is the biggest goal for most opera singers,” Smith said. “I want to break the stigma that music has for people of color. A lot of people of color, especially in Kansas, don’t go into music because they feel like classical music is not for them since it is a white-dominated genre. I want to break that stigma with voice and violin and show people that it is possible for people of color and women of color to do this.”
Smith has also broken down barriers as the president of WSGA.
“[Victoria and I] are the two first people of color to hold the presidency and vice presidency [at Washburn],” said Mayela Campa, former vice president of WSGA.
As a woman of color, Smith was able to confide in vice president Campa until she graduated.
“It is pretty great and is a big step for Washburn, especially because we lack diversity,” Smith said. “To be able to be the first [woman of color president] is saying something. It is a huge step forward for Washburn.”
On top of having to battle stigma and precedents, Smith and Campa also had to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and classes going virtual.
“Victoria and I had a rough semester. We really relied on each other throughout our campaign and she often stuck up for me. Victoria has been the biggest aspiration for my role, she pushed me and we were able to overcome many obstacles,” Campa said.
A big part of being president is all the tasks and effort you have to put into it. Smith compared her role as president to a boss in a video game.
“If you think of my job in terms of a video game, there are all these different levels and there is an overhead boss. I’m that last boss you have to beat to defeat WSGA,” Smith said.
Coming from the position of budget director, Smith had noticed problems and was determined to fix them.
“I think I saw myself in this position and whenever I see myself in something I go for it,” Smith said. “I definitely pushed myself, but I also had a lot of support from people.”
Smith said the hardest part about being president was that there are hard decisions you have to make and hard conversations you have to have. Through being president of WSGA, she was able to grow as a leader.
A goal of WSGA has been to make Washburn more diverse and inclusive.
“We are really trying to make Washburn better and more welcoming for people of color and international students,” Smith said.
Smith is looking forward to taking with her what she learned about her leadership abilities.
“One thing I would take away from my position is the fact of how I got here,” Smith said. “I am not afraid to speak my mind and voice my opinion. I got here because I was not afraid to tell people how I felt.”