ACC’s Student Government Association and How You Can Get Involved

Story by Gloria Nguyen

Graphics by Kate Korepova

Edited by Pete Ramirez

The Student Government Association (SGA) is a student organization comprised of members who have been duly elected from the student body of Austin Community College District.

According to SGA’s constitution, their goals are to facilitate understanding of democracy in our college, promote involvement among all members of the college community, and most importantly, to make the interests of the student body heard in our college in academic, institutional and campus affairs.

“A strong, enthusiastic and well-trained SGA, is for the betterment of all ACC students”

Mohammed Elghoul, advisor for ACC’s Student Government Association

In order to fulfill their goals and ensure they are listening to students, SGA recruits students from all 11 campuses and from all aspects of life. 

Mohammed Elghoul, SGA’s advisor, says this approach improves the lives of the student body. “When ACC students have quicker access to an SGA member at their grade reviews or a more immediate place to express their concerns, student lives are better,” Elghoul said.  

A group of students stand out side and smile for a picture in front of a tall clock tower.
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture with their advisor, Muhammed Elghoul, during the recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

In line with their approach to being an advocate for the student body, SGA is currently focused on a district-wide information-gathering campaign collecting feedback to better understand the needs and state of housing for ACC students. Their short survey has been shared by the school via email and can also be found here.

SGA tries its best to represent ACC students but COVID-19 has made it challenging to find opportunities to connect directly with the student body. 

“One of which, which is a bit challenging now because of the COVID, is to have fellow students come to a selected location and talk to them,” Elghoul said. “That way we can figure out what is important for fellow students.”

One off-campus activity that took a pause due to the challenges of the pandemic was the annual toy drive that is coordinated by SGA with the help of the honors society, Phi Theta Kappa. This event, which serves underprivileged youth in Travis County, is one of the student organization’s largest events of the year.

“We collect toys from boxes on most campuses,” Elghoul said. “Students bring the toys to the sheriff’s office. They have a list of families in need and want toys for the holiday and do an annual donation drive.”

The current president of ACC’s SGA, Isaiah Smith, is working with his team to develop more ideas for events and activities where students can connect with SGA members.

An young African-American man dressed in a suit and bowtie smiles for a photo with an American flag in the background of one side of the frame.
Austin Community College’s Student Government Association President Isaiah Smith. Smith and the SGA strive to advocate for all ACC students. Photo provided by Isaiah Smith

“We’re trying to get other departments at ACC involved in SGA activities,” Smith, said. “SGA is supposed to be representing our school as a whole, not just SGA members.”

Smith is leveraging his position within SGA and his expanding network of connections to improve the lives of all ACC students.

“I’m in the process of building a massive communication channel,” Smith said. “If any of our students have any issues, maybe with safety, we can easily get in touch with the ACC Police Department.”

Apply now to be a member during SGA’s 2022-2023 academic year.

As a member of SGA, students have opportunities to travel and meet other student leaders at other colleges, be invited to local exclusive events and represent their fellow students. 

The application period has started and will end on April 13. 

Find the application here.

Elections run from April 15 to April 25. 

There are many positions that can be filled by students and they are all up for election. A full list of positions can be found here.

Only prior SGA members can run for executive board positions. Senate positions are open to all.

All applicants are required to be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA.

“We used to [hold the election] over the course of 7 days, so by 10 days, people will have more time to prepare and encourage people to vote for them,” Elghoul said. 

As the student leader of SGA, Smith points out some characteristics that members of SGA should cultivate. 

Smith said members should be assertive, flexible and caring. 

For future members of the organization, Smith’s advice is simple: “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” 

A group of students stand inside and smile for a picture next to large letters lit up in lights that spell "COSGA."
Members of Austin Community College’s Student Government Association stand for a picture during a recent Conference on Student Government Associations. Photo provided by Muhammed Elghoul

Elghoul is committed to continuing to guide the SGA to better understand and serve the ACC student body. 

“If you want to represent the students, you have to know the students,” Elghoul said.

For more information about SGA, check out their website and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. If you have any questions about SGA, you can reach out to Elghoul at mohammed.elghoul@austincc.edu.

Keep You and Yours Cyber Secure

Video by Nathan Lu

Story by Pete Ramirez


The prominent role the internet plays in our world has highlighted an issue we’ve been dealing with since the creation of the internet: cybersecurity.

Every few months there is a new headline in the news about a prominent company or government organization that has been hacked such as the large-scale Solarwinds breach or the massive Twitch data dump.

Understanding that our ever-connected lives won’t be unplugging from the internet anytime soon, a few Austin Community College students and faculty are doing what they can to educate those around them about the many threats that are lurking online.

“More of our learning has moved onto the internet,” Austin Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa honors society officer, Arden Silva said. “Children are being exposed to the internet at a much younger age.”

Alya Mansoor, another ACC student and PTK officer, said that she works with young kids and has often witnessed them unknowingly download malware and ruin whatever technology they are using.

“A lot of what I see is kids being impacted and easily influenced by the technology, entertainment, and media out there,” Mansoor said. 

In order to educate people about the dangers of the web and promote healthy cybersecurity habits, PTK’s Honors in Action committee created a convenient, accessible website that contains eye-catching PDFs filled with tips and guides to keep you safe online.

“I hope that we can at least bring some awareness to these kids and help them in navigating their own lives through the technology that is available to them.”

Alya Mansoor, Austin Community College student and Phi Theta Kappa officer

“We researched in the spring and we found out that kids are being taught cyber security in school but that is not really being enforced at home,” ACC student and PTK officer Isabella Santos said.

The PTK members believe their new website will be a reinforcement tool that parents can utilize to help their families stay protected in the ever-expanding digital world.

“I hope that we can at least bring some awareness to these kids and help them in navigating their own lives through the technology that is available to them,” Mansoor said.

All of the recommendations that are found on PTK’s cybersecurity website are not only for children. Adolescents and adults can benefit from adopting the practices as well.

An ACC faculty member that is doing his part to spread the gospel of safe online practices to all ages is Dr. Michael MacLeod.

MacLeod is a professor working in the computer science department who has a background in cybersecurity.

“I was in information technology for 35 years,” MacLeod said. “I built the fourth-largest state-owned network in the state of Texas.”

Having seen how digital threats have evolved and increased frequency over the years, MacLeod said that most people don’t understand that we’ve been in serious cyber warfare since the early 2000s.

“Every day [hackers] get better,” MacLeod said. “So every day, our people have to get better.”

For those that are interested in entering the world of cybersecurity, MacLeod encourages learning as much as you can and exposing yourself to groups that work in this field.

When it comes to the average internet user who may not know the ins and outs of cyber security, MacLeod recommends purchasing a full suite internet security tool like Kaspersky, Norton, or Bitdefender to protect your devices.

“You’ve got to have something in place to protect yourself,” MacLeod said. 

The ACC professor also said that everyone should use caution with the apps that are downloaded onto their devices.

“Every one of those free software apps tracks every single thing you do,” MacLeod said.

Improving cybersecurity habits may seem overwhelming but there are many trusted tools and resources available to the average consumer to use to defend themselves from threats on the web.

“It’s so easy to get caught up in the quickness of the internet but investing in cybersecurity knowledge and skills is beneficial not only to you but others around you,” Mansoor said.


Student Organization Profiles

By: Patrick Davis

Joining a student organization at Austin Community College may be the last thing on your list considering the demands from classes, work, family responsibilities, internships, and more. However, there are students involved in student organizations who will tell you that the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. ACCENT met with three students involved with student organizations to hear about their experiences.

ACC’s Student Life website has a list of 115 student organizations, although not all of them are active. If a student cannot find the organization they are looking for, an advisor will work with the student to create a new organization. That is exactly what happened to Devin Driskell of the Future Business Leaders of Austin (FBLA) and Ashley Pesina of the Latinx Student Union (LXSU).

Pesina was a member of the Hispanic Students Association (HSA) in 2009. When she came back to ACC ten years later, she found that HSA was no longer active. With Advisor Jessica Oest’s help, Pesina started working on a new student organization for Latinx students. LXSU officially became an organization in Oct. of 2020.

The group’s primary purpose is “helping individuals escape a sense of otherness that the Latinx community is often confronted with,” Pesina said.

Although LXSU is concentrated on the Latinx community, the group welcomes all students.

Ayeesha Green giving a presentation on finance during a virtual Future Business Leaders of Austin (FBLA) meeting
Ayeesha Green giving a presentation on finance during a virtual Future Business Leaders of Austin (FBLA) meeting.

FBLA was also founded by a student who couldn’t find the club they were looking for. Since starting FBLA only two years ago, the student organization membership has grown to have 50 members to this day. The group aims to “help people be ready for their journey into the business world,” Driskell said.

While the group is focused on business majors, Driskell believes that the skills fostered by FBLA such as public speaking, networking, and interview skills, can be of use to students who are pursuing any degree plan.

Alpha Gamma Pi is the ACC chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), an international honor society for community colleges. The group was founded on four hallmarks: scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship. PTK works in the community through service projects and volunteer opportunities.

Alicia Stadler is currently the vice president of PTK of the Highland campus and has served as president and historian in past semesters. Stadler said that she initially joined PTK to improve her transfer application but gained a tight-knit support system.

“The officer team has become my family. I love them all. They’re great people,” Stadler said.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, student organizations have moved their club meetings and events to online platforms such as Google Meet and Zoom. Pesina has noticed that meeting virtually makes it challenging to bond with other LXSU members. However, Driskell has actually seen a rise in FBLA membership since the start of the pandemic, presumably because virtual meetings are more convenient for students to attend than in-person events. The biggest challenge these students have faced when joining or starting the groups has been finding the time to participate and organize activities.

Driskell sees a silver lining in that challenge, as it has helped him improve his time management skills. He has also become more comfortable with public speaking.

In addition to time management, Pesina also cites greater patience and accountability as qualities she has gained during her time with LXSU.

Driskell, Pesina, and Stadler all speak highly of their time spent in student organizations. The time invested can create new friendships, networking opportunities, and real-life skills. Student organizations give their members the chance to work with a diverse group of people, including other students, advisors, and industry professionals.

Stadler encourages anyone who has the opportunity to join a student organization to do so.

“You never know if you’re going to meet your best friend, or meet somebody who could help you get into these dream schools, or just meet some really, really great people,” Stadler said.

Campus Org Profile: Phi Theta Kappa

Story by Shannon Mullery, Reporter

At the beginning of each semester, college students receive invitaions via mail, e-mail and word of mouth to join a multitude of clubs, groups and fraternities or sororities. One that students at ACC receive is a little yellow invitation in the mail for a group called Phi Theta Kappa.

While some students, understandably, have the impression that this organization is a fraternity or sorority, it is actually an honors society that extends to community colleges everywhere in the United States, as well as internationally.

“I like to say we’re more geek than Greek,” Daniel Chitty, ACC’s Alpha Gamma Pi Chapter Presi- dent said. “But I’m not gonna say it’s not at all social, because we do like to have a good time.”

Each chapter of Phi Theta Kappa is very unique. At ACC, the Alpha Gamma Pi chapter focuses on community service, academics, and some research activity. Students with 12-23 hours and a 3.5 GPA, 24-45 hours and a 3.4 GPA, or over 46 hours and a 3.25 GPA all qualify to apply for membership.

Students also need to be enrolled in at least six credit hours the semester they join, and have a declared major. Bronze members only need to attend a new member orientation meeting, and pay the membership meetings. Silver members can expect some active involvement, and gold members should expect to devote a fair amount of their time to the organization.

Shortly after joining Phi Theta Kappa in the fall of 2011, Chitty volunteered to fill in for a campus vice president, who had stepped down in the organization. He moved up quickly, becoming Phi Theta Kappa’s international president in Apr. of 2013.

“Campaigning for the office and holding the office are two very different experiences. Win or lose, you always grow from the campaign experience,” Chitty said. Joining Phi Theta Kappa has not changed his long-term goals, which include getting accepted into dental school, but it has helped him broaden his perspective.

“I feel like it has helped to prepare me much better than any classroom could to enter into a much more professional realm.” Chitty will be attending the School of Dentistry at the UT Health and Science Center in San Antonio next year.