As student body president and vice president, Blake Birno ’23 and Marissa Cutlan ’23 lead Bethel Student Government (BSG)—a student-led organization composed of seven departments that all exist to enhance the Bethel student experience. Here, they reflect on their decision to run for office, their work in BSG, and their advice to incoming Bethel students.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and what are you involved in at Bethel?
Blake Birno: I’m from Minnetonka, Minnesota, and I am a business marketing major with a leadership and communication studies double minor, as well as a healthcare endorsement. At Bethel, I am involved in the Royals Investment Fund, I work in the admissions office as a tour guide, and drum for the 5:40 Jazz Orchestra and United Worship.
Marissa Cutlan: I am a biochemistry and chemistry double major with a psychology minor from Green Bay, Wisconsin (yes, I am a Packers fan). On campus, I run on the cross country and track and field teams and work as a chemistry teacher assistant and lead tutor in the Science Help Sessions.
Can you explain what Bethel Student Government is and how it impacts students at Bethel?
Cutlan: Bethel Student Government (BSG) is a student-run organization that works to develop, inspire, and connect all students at Bethel. We put on events, partner with students, and create spaces for all of our students on campus. Our goal is to be united in everything we do, and serve all students at Bethel.
What made you decide to run for office?
Birno: Bethel is an amazing community. To be a part of a community like Bethel is truly a gift, and I believe it is important to give back to that community. Through the opportunities and experiences I’ve had, I’ve found it important to continue to find ways to give back.
Cutlan: The Saturday before Christmas break in December 2020, Blake and I, along with a few other BSG members, decorated the Brushaber Commons for Christmas. We spent hours decorating the university. At about 2 a.m., we had finally finished our decorations, and I was overjoyed. It was at that moment that I realized that I wanted to run for office. I love giving up my Saturday nights to decorate for Christmas. I love to serve our community and brighten our students’ days, even if that takes the form of a Christmas tree.
What do you hope to accomplish this year in your roles?
Birno: Our big focus is serving and representing every single student. We have done things such as the “Dear BSG” campaign, which gives students a direct line to our office to offer feedback or ideas in whatever area of campus they think needed improvement. We’ve also created a student task force with the goal of creating a proposal for a student activity space for students to utilize at night and on the weekends. While these are just a few of the steps we have taken, in everything we do, we work to ensure that all students will benefit.
What is your favorite thing about the Bethel community?
Birno: For me, the answer is in the question. It’s the community itself. Never have I seen a place with such a loving and devoted community, grounded in faith. That is special and what continues to make me fall in love with Bethel over and over again.
Cutlan: The people! I love being surrounded by passionate, engaging, and rooted people who support and challenge me in every aspect of my life.
What advice do you have for students who are new to the Bethel community?
Cutlan: Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Allow yourself to be supported by those around you and lean into the uncomfortable situations around you. That is where the real growth happens.
Birno: Get involved! You hear it everywhere, but honestly it is the best thing you can do. One of the best things about Bethel is the ability to get involved in so many different aspects of campus. You can play a sport, and be in a musical group, and be in the student government, and be an RA, and be in clubs. You don’t have to do one thing or the other, but rather, you can do as much as you want, which allows you to truly get immersed in Bethel.
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