MSA presidency valuable, doesn’t always lead to politics

Although the Minnesota Student Association isnâÄôt known as a political breeding ground for public officials, former presidents have put the experience into their lives after graduation. Matt Musel , MSAâÄôs president in the 1995-96 academic year, noted that MSA presidents havenâÄôt had a great history in becoming elected officials. âÄúMSA is a great experience in political leadership, but being MSA president is not a fast ticket to other elected offices,âÄù he said. There are some former presidents, however, who made a name for themselves politically. Jigar Ashwin Madia , the 1997-98 MSA president, ran for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in MinnesotaâÄôs 3rd Congressional District this year, but lost to Republican candidate Erik Paulsen . Still, Madia said dealing with a wide variety of people helped him in his campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives this year. âÄúFinding common ground amongst diverse groups of people is a skill that will serve people well throughout their lives,âÄù Madia said. He said he learned itâÄôs more useful to work together through disagreements, because that works better than âÄútrying to attack people and tear things down.âÄù Orville Freeman followed his MSA presidency by becoming MinnesotaâÄôs governor in 1955 and the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture in 1961. Jim Johnson, a 1960s MSA president, ran Walter MondaleâÄôs 1984 presidential campaign. Yet 2006-07 president Max Page said the lessons he learned help him in his current job as an 8th grade social studies teacher in the south Bronx of New York City. âÄú[In MSA], you learn how to deal with people you disagree with in a respectful way,âÄù Page said. âÄúIt definitely reinforced the value of doing something for someone in need.âÄù Tony Wagner , the 1993-94 president, said one of the most important things he learned was working with administration and different views from MSA members that âÄúcreate an agenda that everyone buys into that articulate your arguments and support.âÄù Wagner said he took his passion for public service from MSA into the Minnetonka City Council. After graduation, Musel spent a year volunteering with Americorps , then spent a year and a half as the citizen outreach case worker for former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura , a job he got through a connection he made with the executive director of the Board of Regents during his time at MSA. 1996-97 president Helen Phin , who did volunteer work for the Obama campaign, said she learned how processes worked within the University. âÄúItâÄôs not just about demanding lower student tuition or lower student fees,âÄù Phin said. âÄúYou really have to begin with a plan and then go through all the steps to manage that plan.âÄù 2000-01 president Matt Clark said that although MSA lacks any âÄúreal authority,âÄù members of the organization can have a large impact. âÄúItâÄôs not like they can pass a resolution and your taxes go up, Clark said. âÄúBut if they do their job right, they should have a very meaningful impact by finding the right groups on campus to really get things done.âÄù âÄúIt is a place for a new generation of young leaders to argue, to fight, to create, or to do nothing,âÄù Musel said. âÄúThatâÄôs a reflection of them and their time more than itâÄôs a reflection of MSA. MSA is just the arena.âÄù