When Chase Werther started at UF, she knew she wanted to be in SG.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to come here and really experience every single part of my hometown,” said Werther, who was born and raised in Gainesville.
Werther, a UF philosophy and political science junior, first experienced politics when she became president of her sixth grade class at Fort Clarke Middle School. The position allowed her to look outside of herself, she said.
“I learned that the students mattered more than the teachers,” the 21-year-old said. “It really changed my perspective. It taught me that I’m a student leader and a student advocate first.”
Werther, who is running for Student Body treasurer with Challenge Party, has been involved in the SG Women’s Affairs Cabinet, Access Party, Women’s Student Association, Gatorship, the PACE Center for Girls and Gators Matter, Period., a movement that helped bring free menstrual products in different locations on campus.
Brooke Henderson, who’s served alongside Werther through the Gators Matter, Period. movement, said Werther takes action for anything she believes in.
“It’s the little things that Chase does that are huge things,” Henderson, 21, said.
Werther said she sees herself as an agent of change.
“It’s important to make people feel uncomfortable because they need to question why,” she said.
Werther said she owes her current approach to political thought to her friend Mariam Mohamed, who she met at 16 at a sleepover. They became best friends overnight. Mohamed said she wasn’t surprised when Werther decided to run for Student Body treasurer.
“She’s always been a supernatural born leader, and she really cares about changing this school for the better,” she said.
While Stefan Sanguyo’s friends were focused on prom and graduation, he stayed up worrying about his parents’ health.
Sanguyo’s father had a heart attack, and his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer during his senior year of high school. The difficult time increased his desire to make his parents proud, he said.
“My mom has always given back to me and my brothers and supporting our family, Sanguyo, 20, said. “This is why I wanted to go to college — to make my family proud.”
As a freshman at UF, Sanguyo wanted to retreat into his room as he dealt with his mom’s illness. He said he never imagined he’d run for UF’s Student Body treasurer.
“I just knew I wanted to get involved and help other people, but I didn’t know the magnitude of how far I would go,” the UF criminology junior said.
Sanguyo is currently a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences senator with Impact Party. He’s served multiple roles with the Asian American Student Union and ROTC, and has served as the treasurer for UF’s Pi Delta Psi chapter.
Growing up, he struggled with confidence as an Asian American. He said in high school, people assumed he was the smartest in the room and would ask for help on group projects. Others would make fun of his eyes.
Woowon Choi, 23, said his best moment with Sanguyo was when he decided he wanted to run for treasurer for Pi Delta Psi. Choi, a UF applied physiology and kinesiology senior, said Sanguyo has “changed the game” in the way the fraternity handles its finances.
“It was kind of heartwarming to see how he stepped up to that challenge of taking responsibility at a younger age when most people shy away from it,” he said.
Alyssa Bethencourt’s heart rate was only 33 beats per minute when she was 15 years old.
For her age, around 70 to 100 beats per minute would be considered normal. At 14, she was diagnosed with anorexia.
Food was Bethencourt’s way to cope with her sister Christine heart condition. At first she decided to eat less but became obsessed with counting her calories.
“With everything, you experience some hardships in life, and those are also experiences I’m very thankful for because they made me who I am today,” the 20-year-old said.
Bethencourt’s sister, 34-year-old Michelle Sanchez said she started to notice her sister’s anorexia when they went on Bethencourt’s quinceañera cruise. At breakfast, Sanchez said she noticed Bethencourt was barely eating.
“It was a huge struggle, and the whole family had to walk on eggshells because it’s hard to identify with something you’ve never dealt with,” Sanchez said. The way her younger sister handled her disorder shows her true character, she added.
Bethencourt said the most important thing she learned from her disorder was to have a positive outlook on things.
“Nothing is going to be easy, and that’s with everything you commit yourself to,” Bethencourt said.
It took two years for Bethencourt, a UF Innovation Academy telecommunications junior, to overcome her disorder, she said. At UF, she became a part of the Freshman Leadership Council and directed the group’s SG Outreach Committee. She sat in the sophomore seat of the Student Senate and was on the Allocations and Judiciary committees with Impact Party. She was also involved in the Black Student Union. She is running for treasurer with Inspire Party.
“I’ve been trying to be well-versed all over campus and multifaceted in all my involvement,” Bethencourt said.