Two new faces for NISG leaders


NICK FISHER, Executive Editor

Between a web of meetings, greetings and general leadings, incoming president, Katie Evans, and incoming vice president, Renae Beard, sat down with the Northern Iowan to discuss their new positions, goals for their administration and apiary, among other topics. 

Evans, a senior political science major, and Beard, a first-year grad student of the women’s and gender studies program, won the office despite being behind after the first round of voting. They managed to beat the opposing ticket — Jared Heitz and Tanner Bernhard — after a weeklong run-off campaign. 

“I think [there are] areas [of campus] that can continue to be improved upon,” Beard said. “Definitely, we’re not coming in with any significantly [more] revolutionary ideas than what anyone else has ever had. We are just hoping to build on them further and offer a new perspective and try them.” 

Evans and Beard had met in a shared honors class, and then spent time together in a short play. It was after Evans approached Beard to work on her campaign that the two made the decision to run just a few weeks before campaigning officially began. 

“We decided we’d make a good team — being a grad and undergraduate ticket — and here we are!” Beard said. 

The duo is the first female student body president and vice president to serve the university since 1997. 

Evans said that her propensity for political endeavors was the central reason for her interest in running for office. This political interest comes from being raised in a household of two high school teachers who encouraged their children to “discuss politics over the dinner table.” 

This natural passion and the pursuit of that passion is what made choosing their respective roles so easy. 

“It was kind of natural that Katie was going to be president. She has such a strong background in political science, and this is something that she is really passionate about,” Beard said. 

Beard said that the outreach to external constituencies, which accompanies the presidential position, also favored Evans’s abilities. Some of these constituencies include the capitol and other governmental bodies throughout the state.

Evans and Beard are interested in implementing a women’s center on campus, an area where UNI has lagged behind the University of Iowa and Iowa State University for years. They are also seeking to create a first-year council as a liaison between incoming students — whether that be traditional or nontraditional — to aid with the transition to a new environment.

For Evans and Beard, the success of these plans relies on effective communication. They hope to catalyze collaboration within NISG and also to bridge the perceived gap between NISG and students. 

For Evans, originally from Wisconsin, but raised in Dubuque, IA, the choice to attend UNI was done out of necessity. 

“When I visited campus and realized this is where I want to be, I really grasped that it was the place that I needed to be, and the place that I should be,” Evans said. 

For Beard, also originally from Wisconsin, but raised in Chariton, IA, her visit to campus also solidified her interest in UNI. 

Both feel that they’ve made the right decision. 

“I really love UNI, because it is the place where I discovered what I was really passionate about. I always thought I wanted to be a school psychologist, but then the women’s and gender studies program just sort of fell into my lap, and it was something that I had never really heard about before I came here,” Beards said. 

Evans also feels at home within her department, the political science department. Coupled with her intense interest in politics, this is why her dream job is to work for the United Nations. 

Beard shared a fun fact that is less tied to her major.

 “Well, I was the 2012 Honey Queen. I’m a beekeeper. So, for a year I traveled the state and was the face of the industry. So I went and spoke on the benefits of beekeeping to agriculture and communities and the value of the honeybee. It was through the Iowa Honey Producers Association,” Beard said.  

“That’s why she’s so sweet: it’s all the honey that the bees make!” Evans said.

With their new positions, Evans and Beard remain busy, a feeling they’ve experienced ever since the first day of campaigning. Through it all, they remain thankful to those who supported them since day one. 

“That was really surprising, for me I guess, that people were so passionate about furthering our dreams when they weren’t going to be directly affected,” Beards said. “And I mean that they weren’t going to be in office by doing all this work. Like, maybe we were going to take on things that were important to them, but there was no foreseeable benefit for them other than believing in our values. I found that very touching.”