The Gateway's Presidential Preview
Spangler sets goals for the 2013-14 academic year.
Published: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 15:02
Martha Spangler is no stranger to adventure. Having spent this last summer visiting the cities of Brazil and last fall relaxing on international beaches as she studied abroad in Spain for a semester, Spangler has seen the world. Now she’s back home at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and about to embark on her next adventure: leading Student Government as the newly elected Student President-Regent (SPR).
“I remember sitting on the beaches in Spain, thinking this is nice and perfect, but completely different from my lifestyle at home,” Spangler said. “At home I am just constantly busy, and I knew I would only become busier if I was elected. I like this lifestyle though. I missed it.”
Nestled in her corner office on the first floor of Milo Bail Student Center, Spangler responds to the dozens upon dozens of emails that flood her inbox every hour. Her comfortably-sized office, big enough to put most UNO professors’ offices to shame, sits still as she busily works away a warm July afternoon. While she hasn’t yet experienced the full weight of responsibility the SPR holds during the academic school year, Spangler hasn’t been sitting idle this summer.
From attending Board of Regents meetings to planning next year with members of her executive council, Spangler has been whittling away her summer days to prepare for her job as SPR. Long before her days of meeting with college Regents and overseeing councils, senates and cabinets, Spangler was a Californian girl growing up in small-town Nebraska.
Born in Pasadena, Cal., Spangler was raised in Peru, Neb. after her family relocated when she was a year old. She graduated from Auburn Senior High where she was involved in everything from National Honors Society to Math and Science Club, even though math was her “worst subject.” Spangler came to UNO to study sociology and Spanish after visiting her brother, who was a student at the time, many times her senior year.
“I liked how small the campus was, but how big the city of Omaha is,” Spangler said. “It’s a community surrounded by opportunity.”
Once at UNO, Spangler wasted no time getting involved. Immediately she joined Chi Omega, Matadors, and Orientation Leaders and got involved in the Goodrich Scholarship program. Her gateway to becoming SPR came mid-fall semester when she joined Student Government’s first Freshmen Leadership Council (FLC).
Comprised of about 20 freshmen students who had to apply and interview for admittance into the program, FLC was an organization designed to introduce students to leadership and Student Government. It was founded in the Fall semester of 2010- with six of its members, including Spangler, going on to serve as senators and executive council members for Student Government.
“It was the first year that FLC ever existed,” Spangler said. “I think our specific council was important because it served as a catalyst for the organization. The program has only grown and improved each year. For me, FLC provided the chance to meet some great people.”
During her time on FLC, Spangler was voted to represent the council and whole freshmen class as a freshmen senator with Ben Kaipust, her presidential running mate and current student body vice president. Spangler went on to serve as an Arts and Sciences senator and chair for the Campus Improvement committee during her sophomore year in Student Government. The following year Spangler put her political career on hold as she then traveled to Spain to study abroad.
“I think the main lesson I learned while traveling that will help me this year as president is that nothing will ever go as planned,” Spangler said. “I’ve learned the virtue of acceptance. Sometimes you just need to roll with it and make the best of a situation. “
Spangler’s path to the presidency was the result of well-executed and successful plan. Since Spangler served as a freshmen senator with Kaipust, the duo had planned to continue their involvement in Student Government until they climbed the ranks to the top of the executive council.
Kaipust was encouraged by 2009-2010 SPR Michael Crabb to pursue the presidency while Spangler’s mentor and confidant, 2010-2011 SPR Liz O’Connor, encouraged her to serve as his vice president. However, when Kaipust wasn’t re-elected to the 2010-2011 senate and Spangler was, the two decided to switch their prospective roles since she now stood to gain more Student Government experience. Kaipust also wanted the chance to manage FLC, a job reserved for the vice president.
“We realized that the responsibilities of SPR fit Martha better while the responsibilities of VP fit me,” Kaipust said. “Martha was more interested in the political side of meeting with faculty and administration, networking and relaying students concerns. Whereas, I was more interested in interacting with younger students and introducing them to Student Government and helping them develop as young leaders.”
Once it came time for Kaipust and Spangler to run for the presidency, though, they stood unopposed. Nevertheless, Spangler encouraged the two to campaign by talking to various organizations and producing campaign literature. Her efforts, coupled with the election commission’s promotion of the looming elections, helped to produce an even greater student voter turnout than in 2012.
“I believe Martha will make a great SPR because she is motivated purely by the desire to make UNO a better place and improve student’s experiences,” Kaipust said. “This isn't just something for her to put on her resume. She truly cares about leaving the school a better place by the time she leaves office.”