Through the Student Lens – The SGA President’s road from first-year student to successful campus leader

Dalwin Corcino ’23, Wheaton Posse 20
Major: Independent Major – Healthcare Policy
Hometown: Bronx, NY

How does the journey from first-year student to leader take shape and what opportunities are available along the way? Explore the leadership evolution of the Student Government Association president and see his advice to students and families as you take a look “Through the Student Lens.”

When you began at Wheaton, were you determined to become the Student Government Association (SGA) President and can you describe that journey from your first day as a first-year student through to today?

Before coming to Wheaton as a Posse Scholar, I was also recruited onto Wheaton’s men’s & women’s swimming and diving team. Student Government was not something I knew of or was interested in yet. While on the swim team, I got to meet Sophia Hatzikos ‘20, who was the 2019-2020 SGA president.

As a student-athlete in my first semester, I worked as a Game Manager, being a ball person for the men’s and women’s soccer games, and was an Administrative Assistant at the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.

I began connecting with students, faculty, and staff to found the Community for Advancing Healthy Masculinity (CAHM) which received SGA recognition amidst the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020.

After returning for my sophomore year, I got involved as a Peer Academic Mentor (formerly the preceptor program), began working for Dining Services, started as an Admissions Tour Guide, and began in Balfour-Hood as a Building Manager for SAIL. At the end of my sophomore year, I was invited to join the Sexuality, Gender, and Inclusion Board (SGIB) the newest SGA Executive Board where I curated a newsletter as the Outreach Coordinator. Later, we adopted the newsletter as a semesterly SGA newsletter to inform the Wheaton community on the countless initiatives and projects class councils and executive boards spearhead.

In addition to joining SGIB my junior year, I was accepted into the First-Generation theme house as their Treasurer, auditioned for Paraiso Latino, Wheaton’s only Hispanic/Latinx Dance Group, and served as a Peer Coach Intern. While participating in these activities I had grown close with Carlos Corrada ‘22, the 2021-2022 SGA president and co-founder of CAHM and member of Paraiso; he shared insight on his role and the tasks he’d be responsible for, like liaising between senior leaders and students to amplify students’ voices.

While my journey at Wheaton was never linear, my passion for improving the student experience remained the same, and near the end of the spring semester, I decided to run for SGA president, leveraging my strong relationships with campus partners. My experience at Wheaton helped to actualize change that improved communication, increased transparency and brought people together to engage in dialogue identifying root causes to collaborate in identifying equitable solutions.

How has your work in SGA impacted students at Wheaton and what are you most proud of?

I did not realize what the charge of being SGA president meant until I had grown into my role by the end of the fall semester. Throughout the fall though, I had the opportunity to meet so many more students, faculty, and staff that I had not worked with before, and was seen as a mentor and advisor to many. I feared messing up, saying the wrong thing to someone, or doing something that would hamper the student experience.

The SGA Core Four (Sophie Waters ‘23, SGA Vice-President; Olivia Deschenes ‘25, executive secretary; and Christopher Bennett ‘23, Executive treasurer) were a great resource and took initiative as we’d delegate tasks to address students’ concerns and advance their ideas. This year’s Core Four started SGA Open Hours, giving students more opportunities to connect and find avenues of support. We hosted the first “Spring Conversations” replacing the former “State of the College” allowing students the opportunity to meet senior leaders and receive answers to their questions to provide insight into the student experience in low-stakes conversations.

This year we restored relationships with the Board of Trustees with the SGA president delivering a presentation to them in the spring and moving forward an opportunity for students to interact with board members during their fall visit. Furthermore, this year many faculty, staff, senior leaders, and students not in SGA applauded us for fostering an inclusive space where people felt comfortable learning and engaging in difficult conversations.

Additionally, we reformed our budget allocation process more equitably appropriating annual budgets to SGA-recognized student organizations. Rather than expecting student leaders to prepare budgets without knowing the specifics of their plans, we’ve shifted to determining budgets based on average spending for the past five fiscal years.

One of our biggest successes this year was the curation of the “SGA Community Drive” and the “Who to Contact Sheet”, serving as a directory and resource to realize student initiatives and bridge communication gaps.

I am most proud of the legacy the 2022-2023 SGA will be leaving behind. Many of the initiatives we started this year will be carried into next year by the next Core Four and I am excited to hear about their success as they have already begun working and preparing for the following year!

How would you say your Wheaton experience changed you and what is the most valuable aspect of it that you will take with you as you start a new chapter in life?

As I continue applying for jobs and speak about my experiences I have been able to leverage my roles on campus to impress employers. Wheaton has always been a student-led campus (at least it’s how I knew it), and the opportunities I found were truly endless.

As I start a new chapter in my life I will cherish the relationships I’ve formed with my professors, the staff who supported me and tirelessly advocated for me, and of course my friends and my Posse! I met amazing people during my time at Wheaton, and I know that I can count on them beyond my life at Wheaton too.

During these past four years, I have transformed into a stronger leader and advocate. I’m prepared to enter the workforce, aspiring to address health disparities for underserved populations, improve the quality of care, and increase access to healthcare while working to control/reduce costs. The leadership roles I held at Wheaton opened the curtains “showing” me the systems and bureaucracies that are in place hindering progress, but I am confident that those experiences will help me get far in life. Thank you, Wheaton!

What would you say to incoming students in the Class of 2027?

The Class of 2023 was at Wheaton pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, and post-pandemic, we had the opportunity to support and mentor the classes of 2024, 2025, and 2026, now it is your turn to get involved and explore all of your interests and passions. Make sure that you take advantage of those opportunities, whether it be as a student-athlete, student-leader, or just a student. Push yourself to step out of your comfort zone and attend club meetings, events, or hiring committee meetings; challenge yourself to learn more about the things you wouldn’t normally go out of your way to learn about. While participating in these things though, remember to always prioritize yourself and then academics because, in the end, we are students first. You will make so many memories at Wheaton whether they are “good,” “bad,” or new, be present and remind yourself to be mindful because every minute you spend at Wheaton counts.

Any advice or tips on how parents and guardians can support their students during their Wheaton journey?
Many students chose to go to Wheaton because of its vast diversity, something that is, in fact, present; the student body is not just diverse in race, ethnicity, religion, or sexuality, but also, diverse in experiences, backgrounds, ideologies, and so much more allowing us to engage in difficult conversations. While we continue learning about differences, it is important to respect others, so remind your students to be respectful of others and open to learning about differences. Wheaton’s culture embraces differences, so trust that when you send your students to Wheaton, they will be challenged in many ways and supported by a loving community growing as leaders.

Many parents and guardians wonder why they never hear about opportunities or experiences their students can take advantage of, but all these opportunities are shared with students through multiple mediums of communication. I’d implore that you encourage your students to read their emails, check Engage@Wheaton if they want to get involved and empower them to reach out to the support on campus because they are not alone.

Dalwin is just one of the many engaging students here at Wheaton. As parents and guardians, you are an integral part of our community. “Through the Student Lens” brings the campus to you, as seen through the eyes of our students, the many roles they play and the experiences they gain during their time here at Wheaton.