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Meet the three juniors vying for DSG president

This year’s Duke Student Government presidential election will be a race between three candidates and one candidate for executive vice president.

Juniors Daisy Almonte, Liv McKinney and Saheel Chodavadia are running for president, and junior Avery Boltwood is the sole candidate for EVP.

The presidential candidates are looking to succeed outgoing President Kristina Smith, a senior.

Elections will be held electronically from noon March 7 to noon March 8. 

Presidential candidates

Almonte is pursuing an interdepartmental major in public policy studies and sociology with a certificate in human rights. She is a Benjamin N. Duke Scholar and a Baldwin Scholar and is from Turkey, N.C., a small rural town southeast of Durham. 

In addition to being the vice president of equity and outreach and a former senator on the same committee, Almonte is a founding member of the First-Generation/Low-Income Caucus and the Latinx Caucus.

She is also involved with Mi Gente, Duke Define American and is a mentor for the First-generation Pre-Orientation program. She also does research on federal immigration policy and says she is working toward an undergraduate thesis on the subject.

Outside of Duke, she serves on the board of a directors of Student Action with Farmworkers, a local nonprofit which she has been involved with since high school.

If elected, Almonte says she wants to prioritize access to “closed-door meetings” so that students can be “in the loop" and "shape the decisions that impact them.” 

“These mechanisms can help center the needs of financial aid recipients in all potential future changes, include key voices for Duke to address sexual misconduct policy, promote safety-enhancing efforts for undocumented individuals on campus, and explore and pursue admissions policies that promote equity and affirm Duke’s commitment to social justice,” Almonte wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

McKinney is a biology major pursuing minors in chemistry and medical sociology from Columbus, Ohio.

At Duke, she is a member of the First-year Advisory Counselor board, part of the Bass Connections team that works with the Center for Global Women’s Health Technologies and is a server at The Commons, the restaurant on the top floor of the Brodhead Center.

“As president next year, I would focus on expanding both physical and financial accessibility, so every Duke student has an opportunity to participate,” McKinney wrote in an email to The Chronicle.

She is currently vice president of the services and sustainability committee and is a former senator of the committee for two years.

McKinney said that, as president, she would focus on community accountability by "addressing gender violence and sexual assault policy" and "working with the administration to craft hate and bias policy by bringing student voices to the table.”

“I want to reimagine what student life can be at Duke, which includes improving mental health culture and assuring the transition of hundreds of students to West Campus is done with student well-being as top priority,” McKinney wrote.

Chodavadia, who hails from Austin, Texas, is majoring in economics and psychology with a minor in statistical sciences. After serving as a senator of academic affairs for two years, he now serves as vice president of academic affairs.

“The driving force behind my candidacy is democratizing access to opportunity for all students, whether that’s through rebuilding a largely ineffective advising system or documenting and leveraging classroom incidents of hate and bias," he wrote in email to The Chronicle. 

At Duke, he is president of the Hindu Students Association and Duke Impact Investing Group, and co-founder of mPower, a start-up that supports rural Indian farmers.

Chodavadia is also a mentor for launch lab, an instructor for the "Impact Investing & Social Entrepreneurship" house course, and a researcher with the Science, Law and Policy Lab.

“I believe in a Duke that is our home, where each student is empowered to define their own trajectory,” he wrote.

EVP candidate

Boltwood, who is from The Colony, Texas, is a political science major interested in minoring in French studies and potentially creative writing.

He is the co-editor-in-chief of The Archive and an athletics department tutor. He also works as front desk staff for the University Center Activities and Events business and finance department.

Boltwood wrote in an email to The Chronicle that he aims for DSG to become “more responsive to students generally, rather than to students with group support,” referring to organizations that are Greek affiliated or other student groups.

“Currently, DSG has no clear points of contact for students, except for students who are on the executive board of some organization,” Boltwood wrote. “I want to create those clear points of contact.”

Boltwood currently serves as president pro tempore of the Senate and chair of First-Generation/Low-Income Caucus. He has held several other positions in DSG, including chair of Senate Judiciary Committee and senator for campus life.

Bre Bradham contributed reporting.

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