While students are living their normal lives attending Sonoma State University, Emily Hinton continues to be behind the scenes, advocating for her fellow students’ needs.
As a member serving on the CSU Board of Trustees, she is traveling multiple times a month, visiting different campuses and meeting with different students in order to learn the specific needs of the other CSU schools.
“One of the most unique parts of this position is nobody really knows it exists. I have this own little world, I travel once a month to the chancellor’s office in Long Beach, “she said. “Nobody in my life has seen that space or the work I do. My parents, my friends, my boyfriend, I just do this work and I leave and then I come back to real life. The next day I’m right back in class being an average student. It’s a really unique position.”
Hinton will graduate in May with a double major in philosophy and political science. She has served as AS President of SSU, been the CEO of SSU’s Associated Students since 2016, currently serves on the CSU Board of Trustees, and was appointed under Jerry Brown’s administration. To say she is involved with her university and community would be an understatement.
Often times, these positions can start out as intimating. All the meetings for the CSU Board of Trustees are live-streamed and can be found on their website. She feels her experience from being AS president has helped her be more comfortable in the position.
“I have the knowledge of the administrative perspective and what their motives are for how they operate at a university as well as the student perspective. It’s easy for me to see a bigger, more general picture,” she said. “It’s easier to work with people when I can tell them, I get the perspective of being the president of the university; I get what your needs are, but also, here are the students needs and here’s where we can agree and meet in the middle.”
Hinton initially found student government when she went through an injury and broke her ankle her sophomore year. This injury caused her to not be able to work which, at the time, seemed like a tragedy, but ended up being a blessing in disguise.
“I was riding my knee scooter around campus and realized what poor quality our cement was. I was like, ‘This has to be awful for students who have disabilities. I’m only on this scooter for maybe another month but what about students who have permanent disabilities,’” she wondered. “ I found student government and went in on my knee scooter and was like, ‘Hey, this is not cool.’” Three years later, she continues to impact the university and the CSU system as a whole.
Hinton has spent so much time over her college career pouring into others as well as her university. She has worked three jobs at times to make ends meet, while still making her education a priority.
After college, she plans to take some time off to work and focus on herself. She explained how rewarding her positions have been over the years but how she has had to sacrifice her wellbeing due to her heavy involvement. “I am going to take a year or two off. Also, being a low income student, I need to be in a better financial spot before I move forward with law school.”
Ultimately, Hinton sees law school as a means to running for Congress within the next 10 years. “I just made a plan with my friend, she’s been working as a campaign organizer on a few different campaigns,” she said.
Hinton’s friend is currently working on Kamala Harris’s campaign. Hinton said, “We made a pact that she’s going to work in campaign management for a while and then maybe 5 to 10 years down the road, I’m going to run for congress and she’s going to be my campaign manager. That’s kind of the plan right now. Work, save a little bit of money, go to law school, then run for Congress.”