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Tavana Farzaneh

Tavana Farzaneh

OU Class of 2022 | Economics (Business Administration) | Norman, Oklahoma

Tavana Farzaneh

The current Executive Branch of the Student Government Association (SGA) at the University of Oklahoma demonstrates some serious girl power. So much so that the three women recently called themselves the Powerpuff Girls, a nickname SGA President Tavana Farzaneh said she strongly claims for herself; Alex Gray, her vice president; and Cricket Kaya, their chief of staff.

According to its website, SGA “serves and advocates for the student body in order to continue improving the student experience.” Farzaneh’s term as president runs from January 2021 - December 2021. 

As a freshman, Farzaneh served in the executive cabinet of then-SGA President Adran Gibbs. Farzaneh recalled how at the time, she would look at Gibbs and wonder if she could do what he was doing. After a while, she realized being SGA president was a possibility.

Now, Farzaneh is in a position where other students are looking at her and wanting to be in her position one day. She said that she’s already had freshmen reach out telling her they’d like to run for the office. 

“Our team had a moment the other day where we did step back and we were like, ‘We did this, and people believed in us,’” Farzaneh reflected. “Knowing that we are in these roles and we get to represent students, I know students will look at us and know that they can be in these spaces how I looked at Adran my freshman year. I hope that someone can look at me and know that they don't even have to question that they can do it.”

In addition to her role in SGA, Farzaneh is involved on campus as a tour guide, in the Price College of Business’ JCPenney Leadership Program, and in the Iranian Cultural Association. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Farzaneh got involved with the Expressive Movement Initiative, where students teach a dance class to children with developmental disabilities, a volunteer opportunity she hopes to continue soon. 

Farzaneh Gray for SGA
Tavana Farzaneh and Alex Gray
Tavana Farzaneh and Alex Gray

Farzaneh was born in Oklahoma and grew up in Norman, but her family immigrated to the United States from Iran. Over winter break, Farzaneh interned at her dad’s law firm, where he’s an immigration lawyer. She said seeing his work more closely made her realize she is interested in the same area, and her dream is to one day work for the American Civil Liberties Union or a similar organization where she can defend people’s rights. 

She also worked as a student fellow for the Kendra Horn for Reelection campaign. Farzaneh said she enjoyed seeing what it was like to work on a national congressional campaign and added that she became a notary public. Since then, she’s become somewhat of a mobile notary, offering to notarize ballots for people. 

Even though the SGA term just started, Farzaneh and her team are already working on some of their goals. Their overall goal is to make campus a more inclusive and welcoming space. One way they are doing that is by updating photos displayed across campus to be more reflective of the student body today. 

A change that has already been implemented is the addition of an international student liaison in the cabinet, with two students in the role this semester. Farzaneh said that the position is meant to be an advocate for students and make sure ideas are accessible and inclusive.

Another key focus is a mental wellness initiative to provide students with more resources, including a mental health counselor database. While the structure is still unknown, the idea is to have a list of counselors who are familiar with college students and also provide info on those who have experience working with specific backgrounds, like people of color or members of the LGBTQ+ community. That way, students can find a counselor located in the area tailored to their needs. 

Cricket Kaya, Tavana Farzaneh, and Alex Gray
Cricket Kaya, Tavana Farzaneh, and Alex Gray

Finally, the current SGA administration is in the early stages of creating the “Who Is OU” initiative, meant to highlight and tell the stories of members of the OU community. 

“Ultimately our goal is just to amplify student voices and ignite comprehensive change,” Farzaneh shared. “That is our mission statement.”

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