Chaz Serna: passionate about reform

Meet your new Fort Steilacoom Student Government President

Bigger than life with a radio voice, a gentle smile and a hearty, kind laugh – that’s what students experience when they meet new Student Body president Chaz Serna.

“This door opened up and I took it,” said Serna. “It’s very exciting.”

Serna views himself as a mediator between the activities board, the student government, and what they collectively do together.

“I see my world as finding ways to reach out to and connect with the student body and to interest them in building a community here at Pierce College,” said Serna. “My role is to facilitate those things and bring them about; to be the voice in the presence of the legislators and the Board of Trustees and to oversee the respective projects the senators have going on.”

His vision for Pierce College Fort Steilacoom starts with easing stress and beating down barriers to education.

“We’re trying to enhance the educational and health experience that people can have here because health starts in your mind,” said Serna. “Your body can really react to the things that are going on in your mind — stressors and stress levels – so we’re trying to ease that. We’re trying to reach out to our more at-risk population, people who are on the cusp of having issues of not being able to pursue their education. We’re all about trying to beat those barriers down and build bridges, build pathways, build roads, if need be, out of one place to another for an individual.”

His term for 2019-2020 started this summer with workshops, conferences, and joining Director of Student Life, Cameron Cox, and Student Life Program Coordinator, Allie Morrow, for training.

“Chaz ran his own nonprofit and has experience working with people, teams, and communities,” said Cox. “Those are unique skill sets that he’s bringing. Not every student body president in the past has had those specific life experiences.”

I will continue to listen, to see, to implore, to ask, to try to get students to engage, and to teach them that they can come to us with issues,”

— Chaz Serna, Student Body President

Cox went on to say how he believes Serna to be a very goal oriented man; passionate about his values and genuinely caring about making a difference. He cares about Pierce College and his fellow students.

Serna immediately went to work tackling three issues before fall quarter even began. One of the main issues is the Health Administration Center (HEC) fee which he hopes to eliminate.

“Another one of my larger issues is financial aid – the way it happens, the way it doesn’t happen, the loopholes,” said Serna. 

“Other colleges have up-to-date ways of dealing with and distributing funds.”

Serna is also trying to bring self-compacting, solar powered recycling trash cans to the campus, as a way to encourage recycling.

“The ones we have now, the birds get into them and spread trash everywhere, and nobody wants to clean it up,” said Serna. “These trash cans, they cannot get into. They hold five times the capacity of a normal trash can.”

Serna hopes to knock off these challenges left and right. “If they give me authority to do things, I’m going to use it,” he said. “It’s not about trying to leave my print or name on anything, I’m just trying to leave something that future student body generations are going to be able to appreciate and enjoy. What matters is the lasting legacy.”

Serna enjoys supporting each student government senator and their programs, and leading by servitude.

“I will continue to listen, to see, to implore, to ask, to try to get students to engage, and to teach them that they can come to us with issues,” said Serna. “Whatever it may be, if we ourselves can’t help you we’re going to direct you in some path where you can get help. We want to do as much as we can, to be the servants we were hired to be.”

His humble heart has roots in a very tough childhood and upbringing, during which he learned powerful lessons about people and life that he plans to use while at Pierce.

Serna did prison ministry and taught Sunday School for six years. He also started his own nonprofit organization, called CJS Urban Outreach Ministries that reached out to homeless children, to give back to the things he didn’t have when he was a kid.

“That’s what I sought to do, hence my major of clinical psychology,” said Serna. “I want to work in abnormal psychology with kids.”

In the meantime Serna has big plans for students at Pierce College this year, specifically to create a community.

“We don’t want sects of individuals here, and cliques of individuals here and there,” said Serna. “We want to show people: Have pride in where you go to school. Don’t just come, go to school, and then go about your business. Be part of this community. Serve in ways that you can. Give back.

“We want the student body to know they have a real voice. Student input won’t fall on deaf ears, fall through the cracks, or get caught in bureaucratic red tape. We want to create a vibrant, viable, healthy community that’s inclusive to all.”