Amy Sharp: Shattering the ceiling at Texas A&M University
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
After serving as the Class of 2019 President at Texas A&M University for three years, Amy Sharp made the jump to run for Student Body President for the 2018-2019 school year and won with 66% of the student vote. She will be the fifth woman to serve as the Student Body President(SBP) in the position’s 72-year history. When asked why she would run with those odds against her, Amy replied, “I think the proper question would be, why wouldn’t I?”.
Amy grew up in Conroe, Texas where she not only described her home as being one that allowed her freedom and creativity but also as one that opened her eyes to a wide range of diversity among her peers. “I’ve grown to really understand what a privilege it was to grow up with that being the ‘norm’,” she said as she reflected on her experience working with students of many different backgrounds on campus. She attributes her success in leadership positions at A&M to her hometown and her upbringing. Even in her early years, Amy had a passion for others and has pursued her goals through leadership. She mentioned one of her first election experiences was running for the treasurer position of her third-grade class. “It’s something that was in me from the very beginning,” she said, “My parents never told me I should do it; It always came from me.” The same drive came naturally when she received the email her freshman year at A&M to run for class president. She spent two weeks campaigning and won against 13 other candidates, 10 of which were male. It was in her role as the Class of 2019 President that Amy says she truly realized her passion: to serve her team and her constituency in an “honest, heart-filled way.”
As SBP, Amy will be responsible for understanding the concerns of the diverse 60,000+ student population and for bridging the gap between the students and the university’s administration. Amy’s platform is focused on the most important parts of student life including physical and mental health and inclusiveness. “Feeling like you are part of the Aggie family is inextricably linked to being an A&M student,” she said. Amy described these aspects as foundational student needs to increase academic success and overall well-being on campus.
Amy attributes her success in the 2018 Student Body President election to her campaign team and to the people who believed in her and her vision for the university. She specifically named her talented campaign manager, Valentina Tovar, as being an integral part of her support system and as the one who “was in the trenches every day” working with her. Amy’s father was also a source of strength, as she called him every day to decompress and strategize. Amy reached out to as many people as she could in preparation for her campaign, including students who had worked on losing campaigns in the past. She tried to gain as many different perspectives as she could in order to better understand how to go about running for and becoming the next Student Body President. Of the seven candidates who came forward to announce their campaign in the early spring, Amy was the only woman. She said this had some drawbacks, but overall motivated her to be a strong candidate. “There were certain aspects of the campaign where the male candidates were invited to things and I wasn't,” she says, “but it was kind of a mistake on their part if they were trying to destroy me, because I get motivated by that.” By being different than her competitors, she was able to leave an impression on many students.
One piece of advice Amy shared for those women interested in running for public office involves more confidence and belief in oneself. “I truly believed I was the most qualified, and if I didn’t believe in myself, I would be doing a disservice to the students… You’ve got to believe in yourself, and if you do, other people will believe in you too.” She recalls her experience speaking in Elect Her conferences, meeting other women interested in public service, and realizing that many perfectly capable women never thought they could run for office. “There are so many women out there who are the best at what they do, and they don’t run! I think it's kind of up to us to tell the girls in our lives who are great leaders, ‘You need to do this! You need to take that seat at the table because if you don't, who will?’” If you don’t find yourself keen on running for office or being in the public eye, Amy has another suggestion, “I truly think that believing in someone is one of the nicest things you can do for another person,” she said. “It doesn't take much. You can show them that they can do great things. Like, just say, ‘I believe in you! You can do this!’ That's probably how most of the women in history have gone on to do awesome things and change the world.”
Above all, Amy expressed how her experience in leadership at A&M has taught her what selfless service means. Her campaign team was a wonderful example to her as they served her and dedicated themselves to her vision throughout the process of running for Student Body President. She says she now knows how to serve the students of Texas A&M University better because of her campaign and leadership experiences, and she desires to give back to those who have supported her through her time at A&M. Although her future may not be in politics, the desire to serve pervades her career goals. “My goal would be to eventually get to the point where I can serve those who have been affected by substance abuse, poverty, and mental health,…[and] I’m running in that direction!”