By Jenny Schouppe
News Report Staff
Luke Jansen claims to have many passions in life -- student government, public relations and business.
But his greatest passion is helping people.
According to Luke, this passion to help people led him to where he is now -- the new Student Body President at Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville (SIUE).
He credits his upbringing in Effingham as to why he is so passionate about impacting the people who surround him.
Jansen, 21, was born Sept. 2, 1995, to Victor and Nancy Jansen. He was raised alongside his older brother, Paul, who also attended SIUE and graduated in 2012.
Luke attended St. Anthony Grade School and High School where he learned from a specific teacher what it took to care for people and how to help people with whatever they are going through.
“Kim Deters was my chorus teacher and she became more of a mentor to me and a family friend,” said Luke. “She showed me exactly what it meant to go the extra mile to make a difference. She would help her students in and out of the classroom and genuinely cared about them. She would not only teach life lessons, but would give us advice and knowledge that extended past what we needed to know for being on stage.”
When Luke wasn’t receiving life advice from his favorite teacher, he was staying busy with many other activities.
Luke was heavily involved in many extra-curricular activities -- student council, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, tennis, chorus, musicals, National Honor Society and CEO Class where he had his business, “Spirit Solutions,” and sold travel mugs, survival bracelets and sunglasses.
“My love of business definitely stems from the CEO course, while my love for school politics definitely came from student council,” explained Luke. “I really enjoy helping people. That’s why I first got involved in school politics. I have been heavily involved in school council ever since sixth grade so it was natural for me to take the next step and continue on with school politics.”
Luke did just that. He graduated from St. Anthony High School in 2014 and enrolled at SIUE to major in Marketing and Entrepreneurship and minor in Public Relations.
Luke immediately jumped into being involved in student government finances for his first two years, eventually becoming the finance director last year. He also joined Sigma Phi Epsilon, Interfraternity Council, SIUE Marketing Association and Phi Eta Sigma.
In addition, he volunteers with “Big Brothers and Big Sisters,” which allows him to “constantly be reminded of the next generation and how important it is to leave a positive legacy.”
In the spring of 2016, Luke took a chance and ran against three other candidates for the position of Student Body President. He conducted speeches, met with student groups on campus and spent many hours advertising.
In April 2015, he was notified he received the position. Now his days are filled with going to class “because I’m a student first” and then answering emails and meeting with student organizations on campus.
The position of Student Body President allows him to “voice any concerns and bridge the gap between the student body and the administration.”
When he was finally selected as Student Body President, Luke knew exactly what he wanted his “big initiative” to focus on.
Luke deemed this school year as a year of “crucial conversations.” The three topics that revolve around that theme are diversity and inclusion, the state budget stalemate, and mental health for college students. All of which he claims allows him to help fellow students and the community as a whole.
According to Luke, discussing the topic of diversity and inclusion comes directly from his childhood growing up in Effingham.
“I come from a place where everyone looked like me, talked like me, dressed like me. Everyone knows everyone in Effingham,” said Luke. “When I came to SIUE, where there are 14,000 students, I was exposed to what diversity really was. Though I was never really exposed to diversity within Effingham, I was exposed to community and what it took to make others feel included.”
“Effingham was always good at making you feel included and like you were part of a family,” Luke added. “I want to encourage positive conversations to help students learn from each other, to show why differences can bring them together, not tear them apart.”
Secondly, Luke wants to make students aware of the state budget stalemate.
“Unfortunately, I don’t know that a lot of students are aware there is a budget crisis,” he said. “I feel it is very important to educate students about important issues like this. I want to simply make them aware and, hopefully, encourage them to speak out and get involved.”
Another way Luke is showing his student body that he cares is through his stance on mental health issues. After losing a fellow student to suicide last year, Luke was inspired to take the “I Care Pledge” and encourage the student body to do the same. This pledge was created to inspire people to simply be a friend to those who suffer from mental health issues and take action when warning signs present themselves.
“There’s such a negative stigma surrounding mental health. A lot of people think, ‘If I go to counseling services, there’s something wrong with me. It will look bad,’” Jansen said. “I applaud and commend someone willing to do that. They see that something isn’t going right, and they’re taking steps to fix that.”
Despite being one of the few presidents elected in his junior year, Jansen is not quite sure if he will run for re-election in the spring. He’s “keeping his options open.”
But one thing is for sure. Luke does plan to go on and seek his master’s degree in higher education administration.
According to Luke, every student body president leaves behind a legacy and he hopes that his legacy is a positive one.
“I want to leave the legacy that I truly helped people. I want to be seen as approachable and that I had a positive impact on this campus.”