NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Ireland Bramhall of Ennis has been appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott to serve as student regent for Stephen F. Austin State University during the 2020-21 academic year.
“I love SFA, so to be able to have an impact on the university at a deeper level is something that I’ve wanted since I stepped foot here my first day of freshman year,” said Bramhall, a hospitality administration senior.
The SFA Board of Regents comprises 10 members appointed by the governor, including a non-voting student regent.
“The fact that they have this position says a lot about their interest in student input,” Bramhall said. “To be able to represent the public from the student’s perspective is really unique. I can help make the student body heard in situations where it would be unheard otherwise.”
With a pandemic, unemployment and civil unrest, Bramhall, an advocate for diversity, knows college students may have another turbulent academic year ahead.
“As the university faces issues, I’m looking forward to being there alongside it to try to help everyone feel comfortable,” she said. “This is home for the students for four years, and it’s really important that it’s a place where students feel comfortable and welcome and ultimately excited to be here.”
In addition to her regent role, Bramhall helps recruit prospective students as a School of Human Sciences ambassador and serves as a student director of The Big Event, Nacogdoches County’s largest day of community service. She also participates in SFA Dance Marathon to help raise money for Christus Trinity Mother Frances Health Hospital, which is the Children’s Miracle Network hospital in Tyler.
Bramhall said finding a way to maintain student involvement in activities like these despite the pandemic is an issue she wants to address as a student regent.
“I feel like I have been successful at SFA because of my interactions with others, and I’ve grown as a leader because of my involvement with these groups,” she said. “The pandemic led to the cancellation of many student activities over the spring, and I’m hoping we can find creative ways to get back to pre-pandemic levels of involvement.”
With hopes of earning a master’s degree after graduation and establishing a successful career in travel and tourism, Bramhall has imagined some dream trips of her own.
First would be a day at Walt Disney World, where she completed an internship in spring 2019. The dream part is she and her immediate family would be the only guests.
But her ultimate dream vacation would be a trip to Europe, including her namesake island, with her immediate family and “Taylor Swift. I’ve loved her since second grade.”
Bramhall’s first official duty was attending the board’s special-called meeting June 23.