Student Voices

November 17, 2021


Photo by Enrico Trujillo

The newly inducted 2021-22 Student Government Association officers set their sights on serving UNM-Taos students. From L-R: Treasurer Emily Brown; Sen. Jonnea Trujillo; Secretary Sydnie Pino; Sen. Sandra Ortiz Baca; President Kayl Rainer; Sen. Jordan Miera; Vice President Laura Neubert; and Staff Advisor Chenoa Velarde.


A group of seven UNM-Taos students, dressed up and wearing masked smiles, gathered at Padre Martinez Hall the morning of Nov. 10 for their induction into the Student Government Association (SGA).

This term's members are Kayl Rainer, president; Laura Neubert, vice president; Emily Brown, treasurer; Sydnie Pino, secretary; and Sens. Sandra Ortiz Baca, Jordan Medina, and Jonnea Trujillo. Chenoa Velarde serves as the group’s staff advisor. Taos Education & Career Center staff shared their pride in High School Equivalency graduates Rainer and Ortiz Baca for representing their peers in the SGA. 

Chancellor Dr. Mary Gutierrez, who welcomed staff, faculty, peers, and some family members to the ceremony, said, "I'm already appreciative of your hard work at the Fall Festival. I'm looking forward to working alongside you and watching you grow."

Their roles call for dedication to leadership and accountability to their classmates and their school, with communication across all channels key to success. 

With that in mind, Dean of Instruction Dr. Randi Archuleta shared with them, “I hope we have an active communication between you and our faculty. We need to hear from the voices of the students.” 

Speaking on behalf of the SGA, Rainer simply told the audience, “It means the world to us that you came out to support us, so we can support our students.” 

And to Rainer, who hails from Taos Pueblo, his goal is clear: “I just want to care for students. I want to be a voice and have a positive influence, especially for the younger students. I know what it feels like to be scared and unsure about college.” 

This is Vice President Neubert’s second term on the SGA. Last year, she served as a senator. This time around as vice president, she said, “I want to bring back the mental health programs we had last year and expand on them.” 

Rainer’s older brother by 6 years, Kenyon, said Kayl is why he enrolled in the UNM-Taos Digital Media Arts program. He has a strong interest in audio/sound recording. Kenyon has already put a note in the SGA box. “What I’ve suggested to [Kayl] is a student lounge with a pool table.” 

He also gave his younger brother some sound advice: “Lead by example.” 

And when it comes to leadership, Velarde aids in their development. She mentors student senators in the ways of formal meeting procedures, democratic ways of engaging, and supporting their ideas by connecting them with key roles on campus. But when it comes to addressing the student population’s ideas or concerns, plus what the SGA chooses to accomplish, that ball is in their court. 

“Historically, the SGA has been supported and encouraged to plan, collaborate, and implement as they see fit,” Velarde explained. “Each year, the needs of our students change, and I trust SGA Senators to focus on those needs and react accordingly. It is an effort put forth by both the SGA and all-campus. Many departments and programs have been involved with engaging students together and finding ways to celebrate them and meet them where they are.”

  • Scott Gerdes, UNM-Taos Branch Communications and Marketing