As student body president and vice president, Blake Birno ’23 and Marissa Cutlan ’23 lead the Bethel Student Government (BSG) – a student-led organization made up of seven departments that all exist to enhance the Bethel student experience. Here, they reflect on their decision to run for office, their work at BSG, and their advice for upcoming Bethel students.
Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from and what do you have in common in Bethel?
Blake Berno: I’m from Minnetonka, Minnesota, and I specialize in business marketing with my major in leadership and communication studies, as well as healthcare support. At Bethel, I participate in the Royals Investment Fund, work in the admissions office as a tour guide and shield for 5:40 Jazz Orchestra and United Worship.
Marisa Catlan: I’m a double major in Biochemistry and Chemistry with a minor in Psychology from Green Bay, Wisconsin (yes, I’m a Packers fan). On campus, I run across country and track and field teams and serve as a chemistry teacher assistant and head teacher for science aid sessions.
Can you explain what a Bethel Student Government is and how it affects students in Bethel?
CatalanBethel Student Government (BSG) is a student-run organization that develops, inspires, and connects all students at Bethel. We organize events, engage students and create spaces for all of our students on campus. Our goal is to be united in everything we do, and to serve all students at Bethel.
What made you decide to run for office?
Berno: Bethel is an amazing community. Being part of a community like Bethel is truly a gift, and I think it’s important to give back to that community. Through the opportunities and experiences I’ve had, I’ve found it important to keep finding ways to give back.
Catalan: On the Saturday before the Christmas holidays in December 2020, Blake and I, along with a few other BSG members, decorated Brushaber Commons for Christmas. We spent hours decorating the university. At around 2am we finally finished decorating, and I was thrilled. At that moment I realized that I wanted to run for office. I love giving up Saturday nights to decorate for Christmas. I love serving our community and bringing joy to our students’ days, even if it takes the form of a Christmas tree.
What do you hope to achieve this year in your roles?
BernoOur great focus is on serving and representing each individual student. We’ve done things like the “Dear BSG” campaign, which gives students a direct line to our office to provide feedback or ideas in any area of the campus they think needs improvement. We have also set up a student staff with the goal of creating a proposal for an activity space for students to use at night and on weekends. While these are just a few of the steps we’ve taken, in everything we do, we work to ensure that all students benefit.
What is your favorite thing about the Bethel community?
Berno: For me the answer is in the question. It is the community itself. I have never seen a place with such a loving and loyal community, grounded in faith. This is special and it still makes me fall in love with Bethel over and over again.
Catalan: the people! I love being surrounded by passionate, rooted people who support and challenge me in every aspect of my life.
What is your advice to new students in the Bethel community?
Catalan: Be comfortable being uncomfortable. Allow yourself to be supported by those around you and get involved in uncomfortable situations around you. This is where the real growth happens.
Berno: Participate! You hear it everywhere, but honestly it’s the best thing you can do. One of the best things about Bethel is the ability to be involved in many different aspects of the campus. You can play a sport, be in a music group, be in student government, be in RA, be in clubs. You don’t have to do one thing or the other, but instead, you can do whatever you want, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in Bethel.