President: Matthew Diaz, 22
From: Miami, Florida
Major: Political science senior
Previous experience: Two-term Inspire Party senator, District D
After it rained, Matthew Diaz used to go outside and pick up snails from the road so people wouldn’t step on them, his mom Patricia Diaz said.
She said he’s had a natural drive to help others since he was a little kid.
“He was a baby. I would call him my little old soul,” she said. “He was always just a gentle, kind, sweet kid.”
Diaz said his top issues going into the election are a funding crisis for student organizations, the university’s racial equity and gender equity score, mental health resources and the campus climate survey.
He is the founding president of the Indigenous-American Student Association. He co-filed a resolution to unsuccessfully impeach the current Impact-affiliated Student Body President Michael Murphy in Fall, due to his role in bringing Donald Trump Jr. to speak on campus. Trump Jr. was paid $50,000 for the speaking engagement, which came from student fees.
Vice President: Emily Hyden, 21
From: Gainesville, Florida
Major: International studies junior
Previous experience: Helped lead a protest for more blue lights on fraternity row in Fall 2019
Emily Hyden said the legal system nearly tore her family apart as a child. Now, she wants to be a lawyer.
When she was 13, Hyden’s father was arrested by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and subsequently convicted on drug charges.
Instead of being locked away for a decade, she said, the judge showed compassion and gave her dad 60 days in prison and five years of community service.
As Inspire’s candidate for Student Body vice president, Hyden hopes to use that same compassion if she is elected.
“Going into everything as vice president with a big heart and going in with compassion, going in with understanding and going in with the fullest intent of truly using my position to better the status and better the situation of Gators,” she said.
Treasurer: Matthew Barocas, 20
From: Miami, Florida
Major: History and political science junior
Previous experience: College of Liberal Arts senator
Matthew Barocas loves politics and loves to bake.
The history and political science junior bakes bread and pastries for his friends during his free time. He said there are different kinds of bread for different people.
“I try to find a bread that matches their personality, which sounds like a BuzzFeed quiz, but it’s fun,” Barocas said. “Some people are like a sweet bread. Some people are a spicy bread. Some people are salty bread.”
Barocas is the president of UF College Democrats and was the organization’s treasurer from Summer 2018 to Spring 2019. He volunteered for Inspire’s campaign before he was elected.
As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Barocas said issues concerning that community are important to him. He also advocates for environmental issues and said he wants to make the world more welcoming.
President: Trevor Pope, 22
From: Gainesville, Florida
Major: First-year law student
Previous experience: Former Impact Party senator, chairman of the SG allocations committee
Nicholas Cassisi said his grandson Trevor Pope has always made sure everyone had a voice.
“He would always look for the person in the back, and he brought them to the front,” he said of Pope’s time on Preview, UF’s orientation staffers.
Pope, a 22-year-old law student at the Levin College of Law, served as the allocations chair while earning his undergraduate degrees. Pope received two bachelor’s in economics and political science in May.
Pope wants to lead by example by working bipartisanly this semester, he said. He wants to collaborate between SG parties to better represent students.
Born in UF Shands Hospital and raised in Gainesville by UF alumni, Pope said he always knew he wanted to attend UF. In addition to serving in the Senate, he was a Preview Staffer, served on the Freshman Leadership Council and was a Cicerone — a UF tour guide.
Vice President: Lauredan Official, 21
From: Orlando, Florida
Major: Advertising junior
Previous experience: Chairman of the SG Leadership and Service Division cabinet for SG leadership
On the day that Lauredan approached a lectern on Gator Walk to announce his candidacy for Student Body vice president, people shouted.
“That is black excellence right there!” they screamed at Official.
He said a lot of his mentees from Black Student Union, what he calls “the clout family,” showed up to support him.
Official makes everyone feel included, his friend Max Toppin said.
“Whenever someone says Lauredan’s name, everyone can associate it with positivity or someone who’s nice or just overall goodness, because he’s made an impact in probably most people’s that I know’s life,” the 19-year-old finance sophomore said.
Official was the SG leadership development and involvement cabinet director — which officially defines SG leadership behavior. He oversaw sub-cabinets such as community involvement, communications, innovation and leadership development and involvement.
Treasurer: Jessica Jesurajan, 20
From: Tampa, Florida
Major: Accounting junior
Previous experience: Member of budget and appropriations committee, Accounting senator, formerly Impact Party
Jessica Jesurajan was born in India and raised in Singapore until second grade. When she moved to the United States, she said she was bullied because of the way she spoke and dressed.
“They would just tell me that I didn’t belong here,” Jesurajan said.
Jesurajan is now the president of the UF Indian Students Association and a 20-year-old accounting junior. She served as a senator and on the budget and appropriations committee and on the judiciary committee prior to her appointment.
“That was just a passion, a personal mission of mine,” she said. “Just to make sure that everybody did feel that it was like an open space, that people shouldn’t feel different, and in their own skin especially.”
She said if she becomes treasurer, her main goals are to make sure everyone takes proactive measures to ensure student organizations receive funding. She plans to make deadlines clearer for everyone and create a finance feedback form to improve communication with student organizations.
Contact Chasity Maynard at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @chasitymaynard0.