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Where are they now: Former student body president candidates

The Daily Tar Heel’s staff writer Rebecca Brickner caught up with former student body president candidates Nikita Shamdasani, Winston Howes and Emilio Vicente to see what they’ve done since the election.

Shamdasani’s UNC app now a reality

When Shamdasani was a sophomore, she was Student Body Secretary in the administration of former Student Body President Will Leimenstoll. A key piece of Leimenstoll’s platform advocated for the creation of a mobile app to help keep the UNC community informed about news and events on campus.

Since 2012, Shamdasani and a team of students have been working with ITS to bring this app to life, culminating in the release of CarolinaGO in October.

“The biggest part of the release was not that we were introducing something revolutionary, but that we were getting something out after a long time of not having a University mobile application that reflected how great of a University we are,” Shamdasani said.

Shamdasani has maintained her relationships with some members, but is no longer actively involved with student government.

“I decided to dedicate my senior year to CarolinaGo and figuring out what I’m going to do after college,” she said.

After graduation, Shamdasani plans to move to Arlington, VA to work for Deloitte Federal Consulting.

“UNC has so many great resources and great people to get connected to,” she said. “I’m going to miss the sense of endless possibility that UNC helped me feel.”

Howes collaborates with Powell’s team

Howes described the election as a stressful, cold and time-consuming process.

“In some ways, I’m actually kind of relieved that I didn’t get the role,” he said. “I’ve been able to use the time I would have put into being student body president into working on the issues I think I are really relevant.”

Howes has been working closely with Student Body President Andrew Powell since Powell took office in the spring. Their collaborative efforts have included helping to create a new version of ConnectCarolina, as well as serving on the Chancellor’s Student Innovation Team.

His background in programming and computer security has allowed him to develop a close working relationship with ITS. This, and an internship with IBM, led to his involvement in a computer security start-up called Signal Sciences.

After graduation, he will be moving to Venice Beach, CA to take a full time job with Signal Sciences.

“I’ll be sad to leave but UNC has prepared me well,” Howes said. “Both the people here as well as the education have prepared me for the next steps in life.”

Vicente works with Board of Governors

Vicente said he ran for student body president in the hopes of making a difference.

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While he respects the outcome of the election, Vicente has chosen to not be involved with student government this year.

“I feel that (student government) is the same as it has always been, not much changes,” he said. “I believe I have more power to have a bigger impact outside of student government and its restraints.”

This semester, Vicente helped found the UNC Board of Governors Democracy Coalition with a group of students that included some of his former campaign members.

“It’s important that, as students, we can hold (the BOG) accountable to us, because they are technically supposed to be working for us and representing our interests” he said.

After graduation, Vicente hopes to work with immigration policy reform.

“I’d love to, as much as I can, make UNC as inclusive as possible. I’d love to see, maybe next year, a student body president who truly is progressive and who actually means what they’re saying,” he said.