Inside USD

AS President Sets Her Sites

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It might be the best typo Sydney McRae ever made. As a freshman at Southern Virginia University searching the Web, she accidently entered University of San Diego Web site appeared on the screen and her life took a different turn. 

McRae transfered to USD as a sophomore and two years later, can’t imagine being anywhere else. 

“I’d never heard of USD, but I immediately fell in love with the campus and it was the only school I applied to in 2006,” she said. “I got in and I just remember being so excited. It had everything I really wanted. There were a lot opportunities to get involved, sports teams, a great location, my major and a lot of things that I really liked.” 

 McRae, 21, a political science major and history minor, is scheduled to graduate in May 2009, but she has a busy year ahead of her. McRae is the new president of Associated Students, elected last spring after a year in student government.

“I ran for freshman representative at Southern Virginia, but I didn’t win. When I came to USD my sophomore year, I spent it getting used to the college. I figured that because I didn’t know anyone, no one would vote for me. When the election came up again in March 2007, I decided to run for vice president of programming. No one ran against me. I won, but I think it scared a lot of people because people in A.S. didn’t know me.” 

She learned quickly on the job and grew to love the position. Balancing the responsibilities of organizing campus programming while carrying 18 units, working, and remaining an active member of a sorority was great training for McRae.

“It allowed me to serve on the executive board,” she said. “Without it, I would be lost. It helped me know the structure, know the system and how things operate. Being vice president of programming helped me develop relationships that make the transition (to president) much easier.” 

McRae believes she’s ready for the new balancing act. “When I get tired that’s when I have the other directors and vice presidents looking to me. It reminds me to stay strong for them.” She has seven male vice presidents this year. She’d like to see more female students running for A.S. positions.

McRae’s goals as president include increasing school spirit, building community on campus, increasing diversity awareness, easing over-programming during the week and providing more weekend events. She also wants to build excitement for the Student Life Pavilion, scheduled to open in Fall 2009. 

McRae said the most rewarding aspect of her job is meeting and working with people in the USD community. “Our campus has all different kinds of groups: the Greek community, the United Front, international students and the academic clubs. It can be hard to get to know people in each of those groups, but in my position I want to reach out to different areas to accomplish some of our goals. I want to reach out, too, because there are several amazing students on campus. I’m awed by what they do and the passion they have and what they’re going to do.”

USD’s other president, Mary E. Lyons, is a great, new resource for McRae. “When she and I sit down and she’s talking to me, I can hear the passion in her voice. She gives so much of herself to serve the university. I really appreciate that she knows what I’m going through, being in a leadership position where there’s a lot of pressure and people are coming at you and demanding things. She told me she’s here for me. If I ever need her, to ask questions or anything, her door is always open.” 

The subject of religion at USD is important to McRae, who is Mormon. She believes the ideals and standards of a Catholic university make the discussion of God more open. “I love being at a university and learning about different religions. Even though USD is a Catholic university, it helps strengthens my own religion, too, because I’m able to educate others about my faith.” 

It’s an honest approach McRae hopes can help students understand that being here is more than just about going to college. 

“I want to show and educate the students, especially the underclassmen, what it means to be Torero. I want them to know what the university stands for and to help them build up the pride and passion. I want to educate them on what resources are on campus, help them get to know the faculty and administration and to know what A.S. is all about. One of my personal goals is to reach out to the student body so they know if they ever need something, or someone to talk to, that they can come to us. We’re their leaders and we want to do it because we love our university.” 

For more information about Associated Students, go to




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