When then Vice President Austin Ostro announced his candidacy for President of the SUNY Student Assembly, an outpouring of supported quickly followed. SUNY students past and present seized the opportunity to share their support for Austin and endorse his candidacy. From personal anecdotes, to memories with Austin and narratives about the impact he made on their lives, it was clear that he had made the most of his tenure as a student leader (which began all the way back in middle school, in Junior State of America, where he competed in debate against some fellow-future-SUNY-student-leaders). Of course his mother also shared her excitement, commending Austin for knowing all our nation’s Presidents since he was just five years old. In her heart, she knew that her son would soon hold that same prestigious title.
Austin began his journey with the SUNY Student Assembly five years ago as the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs. In this role, he learned that advocacy was the key to making a change and improving the SUNY student experience on all fronts. He worked hard to ensure that the Student Assembly was recognized and heard at the highest levels of higher education and legislative leadership.
Austin held this value close as he excelled through leadership positions within the organization. After serving in the legislative affairs realm as both Deputy and Director, he was selected to be Chief of Staff to President Emeritus Marc Cohen, and again to President Emeritus Michael Braun the following year. Midway through the year, Austin was elected Vice President at the Fall 2018 conference. President was the natural next step.
After months of actively campaigning across the SUNY system, Austin was unanimously supported by the Student Assembly and elected President at the Spring 2019 conference. The energy in the room was electric – students from across New York state were thrilled and confident in Austin’s ability to lead the charge and fight on their behalf.
On June 11, 2019, the sun shone brightly through the gallery windows at the SUNY System Administration Building. The room was buzzing with excitement for the official inauguration of Austin Ostro as SUNY Student Assembly president and member of the SUNY Board of Trustees. His grandmother, mother, father, brother and friends, Student Assembly leaders of the past present and future, joined the event to show their support and well wishes.
Leaders from across SUNY, including Associate Provost for Student Affairs and University Life Dr. John Graham and Director of Legislative Relations (and Austin’s former boss when he was the Graduate Assistant in the SUNY Office of Government Relations (and former member of the SUNY Student Assembly)) Jim Campbell, spoke of their confidence in Austin to represent SUNY’s 1.4 million students and be a strong advocate for them in the state and federal legislatures, as well as on the Board of Trustees.
Written by Maya Rudolph, SUNY Student Assembly Policy Director, University at Albany Rockefeller College