With a name like Stephen Joseph-Goodrich Sweet, it is no surprise that “Joey” Sweet has ascended to the influential position of student representative on the Board of Regents. Sweet is a political science major with a minor in justice, and he was appointed this summer to the board. While serving his two year term on the board, Sweet plans to pursue a master’s of public administration with a concentration in criminal justice.
Sweet attended University of Alaska Fairbanks for his first two years of college before transferring to UAA to be closer to family. While at UAA, Sweet has become very involved in campus life. For one year, Sweet was a Residence Life peer mentor and following that he was a residence adviser. He has served as the Residence Hall Association liaison to USUAA as well as a USUAA senator and the government relations officer. This past academic year, Sweet co-founded the Education Club after seeing a deficit in clubs offered for students in education related majors.
“I had noticed two or three years ago that we just didn’t have an education club, because it dawned on me one day we had a Justice Club, a Political Science Association, Anthropology Club but despite education as a field being one of the bigger programs that UAA offers, we didn’t have an education club,” Sweet said.
Director of University Housing, Dining and Conference Services, David Weaver, wrote one of Sweet’s recommendation letters for the Board of Regents. While Sweet was completing a legislative internship in Juneau, he contacted Weaver to voice his interest on working together on projects that focused on sustainability. Together, Weaver and Sweet, wrote a Green Fee proposal to install LED lighting at the Residence Halls. Their proposal was awarded $30,000, which was enough to fund an entire floor of LED lighting.
“The lighting that Joey and I worked together on and were ultimately successful in winning this grant, he’ll be in his 50s when those stop working,” Weaver said. “Think about that. And it all started from just a little bit of volition, tenacity.”
Weaver said Sweet’s follow through and determination to finish the LED lighting project is what makes him stand out among his peers.
“In a lot of ways he’s very typical. He’s bright. He’s representative of most students that have, what I call the raw ingredients of being exceptional, but most people don’t have the volition, the follow through, that he has. And that sets him apart,” Weaver said.
Weaver said that Sweet did not receive any compensation for writing the LED lighting proposal, but that Sweet is the kind of person who, “doesn’t have a lot to prove, I think he just wants to contribute.”
Ryan-Jasen Henne, director of Residence Life, has known Sweet for three years, and he also describes Sweet as tenacious.
“Joey is very tenacious in a very positive way,” Henne said. “And the tenacity he has comes from wanting to first to seek to understand and then to improve upon to make sure people are getting the best experience they can get. “
Henne has watched Sweet grow into a leader at Residence Life, where Sweet’s peers look to him for advice, support and a serious attitude.
“He knows that when it’s time to get down to business, and he’s very present for that, but once that business, quote unquote, is over, he’s just a great guy,” Henne said. “He’s compassionate, and he cares about people… He’s the kind of guy you want on your kickball team, because he’s there to have a good time, but he’s also in it to have a nice experience.”
Sweet’s advises students who are interested in leadership roles at the University to learn how to network while following current events.
“I just tried to pay attention a lot I guess, just to sort of the community and what’s going. I was particularly interested in statewide issues in the first place given the Strategic Pathways framework and that it is working at this University wide level,” Sweet said. “What I would say is try to pay attention to stuff not just within your very own bubble. It’s very easy to focus on only the things you have going on within your orbit but try to be a little more, I guess, altruistic than that.”
As a member of the Board of Regents, Sweet plans on prioritizing communication to students, especially when it concerns Strategic Pathways. He hopes to be a clarifying voice for students when it comes to Board of Regents policy.