Being a first time college student can been stressful, but senior Janay Orange took it head on and quickly became a leader for students as Student Regent.
While Orange initially wanted to attend a historically black college, she received more scholarships at Northwest. She came in undecided but quickly decided to major in public relations.
“My grandmother always said I could talk to a brick wall,” Orange said. “As long as it gave me a ‘mhm’ or a ‘yeah’ I was fine.”
However, it’s her position on the Board of Regents that helped define her college career.
“You get to hear different sides of different stories,” Orange said. “So I’m kind of the median. So let’s say the students have an issue they want to take to the board, they can come through me and I will take it to the board.”
Orange has served as the Student Regent, the student representative on the Board of Regents, the governing body of Northwest, four three years. She works directly with John Jasinski and acts as a voice for the student body.
“It was stressful,” Orange said. “I applied for the job in 2015. It’s a process. The first thing I had to do was an interview with Dr. J (Jasinski) and some of the regents here. Then I had two phone interviews from Jefferson City, then I had a two to three month time span of waiting, then I got the callback saying I got the position.”
Orange has held the position of student regent longer than any of her predecessors. Normally the position of student regent is held by one person for two years. Orange has held it for nearly three.
“At first I didn’t think I was going to get this position whatsoever,” Orange said. “I was a sophomore and didn’t really think about the job too much. I was referred by a former employee here, Steve Bryant. Him and Ve’Shawn Dixon both just said, ‘We think you’d be good for this position, so let’s go for it.’When they called and said I had to go through the Governor's office and I’ll be working under Dr. J, it’s definitely an experience that I can probably say is one of the best in my college career.”
As student regent, and a full time student, Orange keeps busy.
“During Homecoming I worked a lot with different organizations,” Orange said. “Northwest Homecoming has a big impact on this campus, and it’s one of the busiest times of the year. Dealing with the Board of Regents, I might have a meeting with Dr. J one day or just meetings in general with some of the staff, just keeping me up to date on what’s going on.”
Orange said while the job can be stressful, it also opened her eyes to how the University works and connects with all its parts.
“I have made so many connections,” Orange said. “ The best part is I get to work with other student organizations on campus. It’s not just, ‘Oh you’re student regent so you have to stay within the Board of Regents.’ My job is to work with Student Senate and be a collective voice of the University.”
The job often tasks her with speaking at events and panels.
“I don’t know if you remember at the beginning of the semester with the issue of a racial slur in one of the group messages,” Orange said. “We had a forum about that and they asked me to be on the panel because I’m a student leader plus, if that makes sense.”
Orange grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas, with her mother and older brothers for most of her life.
“I’m from a small town, the only girl of five boys,” Orange said. “My mom went to college but got pregnant with my older brother and didn’t graduate. When I got accepted into colleges it was just like, ‘Woah, I can go to college?’ Honestly I never thought I’d leave Leavenworth.”
After her mother passed away, Orange went to go live with her father in Kansas City, Missouri, for nine years. During her time with her father, he drilled the idea of either going to college or joining the military once she finished high school.
“I could do military, but I don’t take orders well,” Orange said. “College was definitely it.”
Orange’s impact as Student Regent even flows over into her personal life. Her friend interactive media design senior Dominic Thomas has known Orange for two years after transferring to Northwest.
“She’s very open to helping others, no matter their problem,” Thomas said. “She’s really taken on the role of her position to be a voice for the students. She always looks at situation and tries to come up with options on how to make it better.”
As Orange prepares to graduate at the end of the semester, she shared advice for her future successor, whomever it may be.
“Time management is key,” Orange said. “Be very open minded. There are a lot of things that as a Student Regent you’re not going to agree with personally. You have to remember it’s not about what you want personally, it’s about what the students want.”