Dakota DiMattio, '17, is the president of Lehigh's Student Senate. She attended an administration meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, where the executive board and co-chairs met to provide updates on what's going on in the committee and discuss any relevant issues. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

Dakota DiMattio takes office as Senate president

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Dakota DiMattio, ’17, isn’t new to Student Senate at Lehigh. She was able to smoothly make the transition to Senate president after serving as vice president last year.

“It was a natural leadership progression for me,” DiMattio said.

DiMattio closely shadowed former Student Senate president, Anna D’Ginto, ’16, before taking on the role herself.

With D’Ginto’s support, DiMattio has been able to take her leadership to a new level and help Lehigh accomplish its goals.

DiMattio said her role as vice president was more hands-on than she expected. She worked with committee chairs and helped to organize projects. Now as president, she works more closely with administrators and Senate’s executive board.

“I’m aware of the rest of the Senate, but I’m less hands-on,” she said. “I miss it a little bit, but I think this position is pushing me to learn new skills.”

Senate treasurer Matthew Rothberg, ’18, has worked alongside DiMattio and watched her transition from vice president to president.

“She was a natural choice to continue what she started as vice president as Senate’s president,” Rothberg said. “Since that, she’s done an excellent job of leading a new breed of senators into the often hectic position which they were voted into. I have the utmost confidence in her ability to continue the path, which she helped carve last year, to making a difference on campus.”

As the president of Student Senate, DiMattio said her biggest responsibilities are running the full Senate meetings, organizing the executive board and acting as the student representative to Lehigh’s board of trustees. She also handles some of the little things, such as communicating with third-party organizations or those who wish to organize events with Senate. She does this to make sure things stay on track and keep moving forward.

After D’Ginto graduated, DiMattio was elected president through an internal process, she said. The entire senate executive board is voted on by the prior year’s Senate.

DiMattio and the other candidates had to state their intent to run and give speeches. Senate then offered pros and cons about whether they would be a good fit or not. After that process occurred, the actual vote took place.

Yasmina Sirgi, ’18, is this year’s vice president of Student Senate. She worked with DiMattio last year while serving as an assistant treasurer.

“(DiMattio’s) leadership style is a mix,” Sirgi said. “She is firm, decisive, attentive and passionate all at the same time, which became clear during her term as vice president. As president, she has already met with administration and students to plan what campus climate issues face our community today. Overall, she is a great role model.”

DiMattio hopes to leave an impact on the Lehigh community.

“I want to make things more transparent across the board,” DiMattio said. “I want to have students have a greater voice on campus. All I hear all day is, ‘You don’t understand the voice that students actually have on campus,’ so I actually want to bring the students’ voices to those higher powers.”

DiMattio said she wants to work on getting more student athletes on Senate by changing its bylaws and encouraging people to speak up during Senate meetings. She also hopes to begin using an online suggestion form to get the students’ voices to Senate. Through these methods, she said she hopes to make the Senate more transparent to students across campus.

DiMattio is a double major in accounting and business information systems. This past summer she had the opportunity of interning with the company Cigna and accepted an offer for a full-time job working in finance IT in the tech development program for them. In the future, she hopes to work in a managerial position, and she believes her position in the Senate will help her reach these goals.

“The real-world experience working with professionals and just getting projects done has really helped me and has set me apart from other interns with organizational skills and other leadership skills,” DiMattio said.

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