Thinking back to when they met, Natalia Kanos and Veronica Mata recalled it happened over Facebook Messenger as they searched for roommates prior to starting as freshmen at George Mason University.
Now, as seniors, they are elevating their Mason experience, as Kanos has been elected student-body president. Her running mate, Mata, is vice president.
Previously, Kanos has held the positions of senator, vice chair, chair, and speaker pro tempore. Mata has acted as clerk and government and community relations chair of the 40th senate and co-chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Recruitment, Reorganization, and Representation of the 41st senate.
Even so, Kanos said that at first she was unsure if she wanted to run for president.
But she said her brother David, BS Government and International Politics ’18, who was the first international student to serve as student body president at Mason, encouraged her to run if it was something she aspired to do, and not to miss the opportunity over fear of losing.
Ultimately, “I just felt like that would be the best platform for me to do the stuff I want to do at Mason and implement the changes I want to,” Natalia said.
On the other hand, Mata said that anyone who knows her in Student Government knows she has always wanted to run for vice president.
With ambition, a strong relationship, and similar personalities, Kanos and Mata said they form a powerful duo.
“I feel like our energies match,” Kanos said. “Our personalities might be a bit blunt, but we just want to get the job done. And we don’t want to fail.”
Having women in leadership is also important to Kanos and Mata.
Especially for Kanos, who is from Nigeria, where, she said, “Women aren't really in leadership roles.”
“I've kind of always said in the back of my mind that if I ran for anything, I wanted another woman [as a running mate] because I felt that it made a statement,” Kanos said.
Their combined experience and knowledge encouraged them to create a comprehensive platform.
“Our biggest motivator is campus affordability, so that includes things from payment plans for textbooks to taking away the credit cap and Metro benefits,” Mata said.
They said they are also “really big on university life,” incorporating fun initiatives, such as a homecoming parade to increase school spirit and show off Mason’s diversity.
For the homecoming parade, “we’re trying to reach out to fraternity and sorority life, INTO Mason, Athletics, just really get everyone involved and get the Fairfax area in on it to show how amazing Mason is,” Kanos said.
Their memberships in various organizations on campus, including Kanos’ participation in the African Student Association and the Women’s Rowing team, and Mata’s leadership role in Alpha Omicron Pi, are a great way to take Sstudent Government out of its bubble, they said.
“We know what we’re doing, and we know the changes that we need to try and make,” Mata said.
Although they said their new positions are “definitely intimidating,” Kanos and Mata said they are ready to leave their mark on Mason for years to come.