A Restless Mind: Lessons for future leaders from outgoing ASOSU President Paola


Jason May, OMN Photographer

ASOSU President Matteo Paola outside Austin Hall on February 24.

Editor’s Note: This column does not represent the opinion of Beaver’s Digest. This column reflects the personal opinions of the writer. 

What does it take to be our student president here at Oregon State University? Surely being the president of Associated Students of Oregon State University, a position with so much responsibility, requires a certain type of person in order to be successful. 

Prepared with questions I’ve been asking myself about student government since freshman year, I found myself sitting in on a meeting shadowing ASOSU President Matteo Paola. 

When Paola isn’t working as president he is a pre-med political science student with a minor in chemistry. Before he ran for his position he was a member of ASOSU’s House of Representatives and part of the movement that raised the minimum wage for students to $15 an hour

Now, as the president, he found himself saddled with the responsibility and long hours that come with the title.

“I (have) always been a big advocate for just giving the presidents a year of absence, a year-long leave of absence and let them do the job full time,” Paola said. “I’m definitely working the 20 hours I’m paid for — if not significantly more most of the time. It varies so much every week but I’d say on average 30 hours.”

Much of his time is spent going to committee meetings, meeting with the OSU faculty, as well as trying to smooth out disagreements that sometimes boil up from behind the scenes.

“Working on events, talking to students – I enjoy that, it doesn’t feel like work to me,” Paola said. “Last year I was a little involved in some clubs and I’ve tried to do some stuff this year. Mostly it ends up being about my job…  My focus has really been on involvement, helping people in different ways.”

While Paola came into his positions at ASOSU as a student in political science, he still had plenty to learn from his time in office. 

Despite all the challenges, Paola has managed to grow into his position here on campus. The president’s time is in high demand, with many events, people and activities all wanting a piece. With experience comes wisdom, and Paola reflected on some of the lessons he’s learned while being here.

“Time management,” Paola said. “You can’t do everything. I’m still struggling, a little bit, balancing doing  all science and physics courses and doing this job and then doing my other commitments. It’s not very easy…  Learning how to say no to things. I don’t have to do everything that’s asked of me.”

The struggles of college life continue to bind us all together. Understanding our own limits allows us to make adjustments to our actions accordingly, as Paola noted. Knowing when you are taking on too much can be hard to identify and even harder to admit to ourselves at times. It’s very easy to justify taking on more than you can because you want to be polite or a team player, but learning how to delegate or even just ask for help is an important skill.

Being the president can’t just be all doom and gloom or nobody would ever accept the position. The status of the title, being able to put the job on your resume, or maybe even because it gives you power to push for the change that you want to see — these are all enticing reasons to accept the challenge of the position.

“I do like it (being president),” Paola said. “It can be very isolating. There is no one else on campus who relates to your position or really understands. The vice president to an extent (understands). But they have to be focused on running the Senate and running elections.”

Heavy is the head that wears the crown, but great are the possibilities it brings. Taking on more responsibility can be a scary prospect to any college student. Managing your time is hard enough when you aren’t the head of a major organization on campus.

“I’m here to help support students,” Paola said. “And I do appreciate when students reach out to me. It does happen occasionally. You can walk into the office (SEC second floor) and talk to someone. You can message us on Instagram. If you go to our website you can find all of our information. I don’t really care how I’m being reached out to as long as I’m getting outreach.”

So when elections for next year’s president come around, don’t be afraid to run for it or any other position in ASOSU. There are students and staff that would love nothing more than to hear your complaints, demands and questions. And while Paola won’t be your student president anymore, he and many others still want to hear your opinions if you’re willing to share them.

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