Xitlalli Villanueva, the vice president of Diversity and Unity of the Weber State Student Association, was sworn in as the student representative on the Utah Board of Higher Education on Sept. 16.
Villanueva, who is set to graduate in spring 2023 with degrees in microbiology and sociology, was one of two students in the state selected to sit on the board. She ran for the position in hopes of amplifying the needs and stories of students in Utah.
“Higher education is not always a linear path. I want students to be seen and amplified whatever that path may be,” Villanueva said.
“I wanted students to be more aware of the higher education system, but I also wanted the system to be more aware of students and how it can help them.”
Villanueva first found her love for involvement and leadership when she was nominated and accepted into the Undergraduate Research Fellows at WSU. She quickly jumped into a new challenge and began serving as the College of Science student senator during the 2021–22 school year, where she wrote legislation advocating for feminine hygiene dispensers across WSU Ogden campus and an equitable online platform for students to easily find internship and research opportunities.
Though her original plan after graduation was to attend medical school, her various leadership positions have put her on a new path: pursuing a graduate degree with a focus in higher education policy.
“My goal with all of my positions is not to represent, but to amplify,” Villanueva said. “It is my responsibility to create safe spaces for students to share their stories and opinions on the higher education system and their experiences at Weber State because one perspective on something is never enough.”