It was just after midnight when Haleigh Pannell ’20 got the news that she’d been elected Student Government Association president at Longwood. Overcome with excitement, she woke up her parents to share the good news.
“They said, ‘We’re so happy for you, but why didn’t you wait to call us in the morning?’” Pannell recalled. “I was like, ‘I’m sorry, but I wanted you to be the first people to know.’”
I want everyone to feel that Longwood is their home away from home, and I want to make the campus as inclusive as possible. We made excellent strides during the last academic year, and I want to continue that.Haleigh Pannell ’20 Tweet This
Pannell, a psychology major with a minor in neuroscience and a member of the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars, was sworn in as SGA president at the end of the spring semester. But her term begins in earnest this week, as the new academic year kicks off with the start of fall semester classes.
Pannell is the first woman of color to hold the position of SGA president at Longwood, a role she doesn’t take lightly.
“I love seeing firsts,” said Pannell. “It’s very meaningful for me to be a role model and hopefully inspire others to strive for leadership positions.”
Among her priorities as SGA president are adding a first-generation representative and continuing the work of planning a multicultural center on campus. Another goal is to work with dining services to develop a way that students can donate unused meal swipes to Elwood’s Cabinet, the student supplemental food pantry that SGA helped to get off the ground last year.
From the time I arrived, I have never stopped learning how to be a leader. I can’t wait to learn more and get to work for the student body this next year.Haleigh Pannell ’20 Tweet This
“My main platform is inclusivity,” she said. “I want everyone to feel that Longwood is their home away from home, and I want to make the campus as inclusive as possible. We made excellent strides during the last academic year, and I want to continue that.”
A native of a small town in Maryland, Pannell was recruited to play lacrosse at Longwood. Her father went to Virginia Military Institute, and she had family members who were familiar with Longwood. All it took was one visit, and she knew Longwood was where she wanted to spend the next four years.
“I came here on a recruiting visit and fell in love as soon as we drove into Farmville,” she said. “I saw people hanging out on Wheeler Mall and Stubbs Mall. I very quickly realized this is a very close-knit community of people that support you and that you can lean on.”
Pannell first got involved in student government her sophomore year, when she was appointed as a senator. The next year she was elected president of the junior class council. She played lacrosse in the fall of her freshman year, but decided to give it up because she wanted more time to devote to other student activities and organizations.
As a sophomore, Pannell founded Promise 16, a student organization that aims to bring greater awareness to the issues of student mental health and suicide prevention.
She credits three of her mentors at Longwood with helping her become more confident and pushing her to seek leadership roles on campus. Those mentors are Director of Multicultural Affairs Jonathan Page, Assistant Director of Leadership Development Quincy Goodine and Kevin Napier, coordinator for recruiting and outreach for the Cormier Honors College for Citizen Scholars. Napier was SGA president when Pannell first got involved in student government.
Pannell’s initial career goal was to get a Ph.D. and become a therapist. While at Longwood, however, her interest in public policy has grown as she has taken on increasing leadership roles. She is now considering how she can impact public policy and do advocacy work and would like to pursue a Ph.D. in social policy after graduation.
“I am thankful for the endless number of possibilities to explore leadership here,” she said. “From the time I arrived, I have never stopped learning how to be a leader. I can’t wait to learn more and get to work for the student body this next year.”