By Audrey Richardson
During their freshman year, Jo Kovach never imagined being president of the Associated Students of Michigan State University (ASMSU). Interestingly enough, it was not their first choice organization to join.
“But I fell in love with being part of the general assembly, writing legislation, and representing a specific constituency,” Kovach said.
Kovach is a first generation, fourth-year student studying social relations and policy in James Madison College with a minor in history. Kovach is also the first openly non-binary president for ASMSU.
Kovach has been part of ASMSU since their freshman year, and has served many different positions including: secretary of freshman class council, general assembly representative for James Madison College, vice president of sophomore class council, and vice president for internal administration.
“I ran for president because I have all this knowledge on different facets of the organization and things I want to change and update,” Kovach said. “A lot of last year was just bringing us out of COVID-19, and now we’re trying to be really purposeful with what works and doesn’t work, and what can we question that we maybe haven’t questioned in a long time.”
One of Kovach’s goals for the year is to make ASMSU more transparent and market the organization better, as they have found that many students have not heard of ASMSU.
Another goal is taking a closer look at purposeful work with ASMSU’s provided services.
“I think one of the best resources we serve to the student body is all of the services we provide,” Kovach said. “For example, over the summer, we completely renewed our readership program through our partnership with the news app, Spotlight.”
Outside of ASMSU, Kovach has also been a student fellow for One Campaign for Michigan, an intern for the Michigan House of Representatives, and most recently, the executive director of the Association of Big Ten students.
After finishing their education, Kovach aspires to be a children’s advocate attorney.
And while Kovach is not part of the social work program, the Honors College curricular flexibility allowed them to take courses in the field. Kovach also was able to take a molecular genetics class, which wouldn’t have been possible without this flexibility.
“Molecular genetics challenged me in a way that I haven’t been challenged in a while,” Kovach said. “I think a big part of James Madison is the critical thinking aspect of writing essays and questioning why we do everything, but science is so concrete, and you can always learn something new — it’s like a puzzle.”
Kovach is also part of a 23-person co-op, which they truly cherish. The co-op has created a second family for Kovach — providing support and relationships that will last a lifetime.
“What I love about the co-ops is that if I want to be alone, I can always come into my room and be alone with my cat, but there is always someone around and everyone is like a family,” Kovach said. “You don’t choose to live with 23 people if you don’t want to be around people, and so really, the co-ops have been such a fantastic thing in my spartan experience.”