SHS grad represents students with regents


The University of Nebraska Board of Regents will have a local voice in 2024-25.

Sam Schroeder, a Seward High graduate and rising junior at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, was elected student body president at UNK for next year. Part of that position is serving as a student regent.

“It’s a great feeling,” Schroeder said.

Students interested in filling the position have to apply and then campaign, he said. He used social media, met with campus organizations and attended different events to get his name in front of the students.

“It can be hard to meet people,” he said.

Going up to random people to ask for their votes was a challenge for a freshman, he said. He served on the student senate as the freshman class representative last year, running against 10 other people for that seat. He was elected speaker of the senate.

While only freshmen can vote for the freshman representative, the whole student body votes for student body president.

“The scale is larger,” Schroeder said. “It was really hard.”

Schroeder was one of three candidates, including the incumbent Temo Molina, in the initial election. He won that by over 100 votes.

The final election was contested after spring break.

“It was really close,” Schroeder said. “On election day, candidates have to stay within 50 feet of Cope Fountain. I was amazed at how many voted as I talked to them.”

Schroeder won by 80 votes.

Candidates have a running mate, which is a good way to diversify votes, he said. Schroeder’s vice president is Zane Grizzle of Fairbury.

The president is able to appoint a four-person cabinet, which is another way to bring different areas of campus together, he said. Schroeder appointed Emma Nolan of York, Joey Orellana of Cozad, Genesis Acosta of Lexington and Ally Sedlacek of O’Neill.

Schroeder said he was able to make more connections as he campaigned. Even now, he said, people he doesn’t know come up and talk to him.

His platform included reinvesting in student organizations.

“I want to put money back with the students,” he said.

One project that has been accomplished is a sand volleyball court, he said.

Schroeder also wants to improve retention, recruiting and keeping students at UNK. One of his goals is to help the campus’s international community with a transit system.

The system would allow the students easier access to campus and sites off campus. It would allow other students to get volunteer hours and help build the community, Schroeder said.

International students arrive on campus earlier than domestic students and go through a separate orientation. He would like to see opportunities for both groups to meet together.

“Everyone is new. It’s a perfect time to make friends,” Schroeder said. “A large part of college is broadening horizons.”

As studeny body president, Schroeder has meetings every Tuesday. He will work with the student senate to accomplish his agenda. He is also responsible for the group’s budget, which is about $60,000, he said.

He will also meet with the UNK administration to give the student perspective. He has a standing meeting with the vice chancellor and chancellor as needed.

Meetings with the system’s Board of Regents are in Lincoln, and Schroeder has to attend.

“I do like to make the trip to Lincoln,” he said.

He is one of four student regents on the board. Other representatives are from the Universities of Nebraska-Lincoln and Omaha and the Medical Center.

Schroeder said one area he wants to see the UNK campus address better is mental health. He had a meeting scheduled with Lopes for Hope to talk about finances and resources available. He wants to push improved mental health over the summer so the organization and other resources are ready when the 2024-25 school year starts.

“I want to make sure the students know about it,” Schroeder said.

He’s looking forward to continuing to build relationships with the students.

As a student majoring in political science, Schroeder will take 12 credits next year to give himself time to be the student body president.

“The load will be a little better, and professors will be understanding,” he said.

He did step down as president of his fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, to give himself more time to serve as student body president. He was also executive vice president of the Interfraternity Council. He’s part of the Honors Student Advisory Board and NU Student Advocacy Group.

He is also a member of a pre-law society, the Order of Omega, the Catholic Newman Center and the Model United Nations, which is a political science club.

“I’m still getting used to the schedule,” he said.

He said he has an open door policy at his office and likes mingling with people.

Schroeder is part of the Kearney Law Opportunities Program, a scholarship program at UNK, Wayne State College and Chadron State College to help address the shortage of attorneys in rural Nebraska.

He worked 15 hours a week as an intern for a law office in Kearney last semester and said the attorneys supported his run for office.

Schroeder was inaugurated as UNK student body president April 16 and had a Board of Regents meeting in Lincoln April 20.