Joseph and Vasquez: From friends to candidates

0
1575
COURTESY PHOTO / JEREMY SIMMONS

Senate Chair Anthony Joseph ‘21 and Sen. Kyle Vasquez ’21 were freshman hall mates before serving as senators together in the College of William and Mary’s Student Assembly. Now the pair are running to be president and vice president of SA’s 328th session, with a platform focused on COVID-19 relief, diversity, inclusion and mental healthcare expansion, among other points. While sharing common initiatives in SA, Joseph and Vasquez also share musical passions and long-standing friendship.

History within SA

Joseph has been a senator in SA since 2018. He has introduced bills such as the Martin Luther King Day Bill, the Cypher Award Act and the Higher Standard Resolution Act alongside current SA President Kelsey Vita ‘20. In 2018, Joseph was elected to be chair of the Public Affairs Committee and currently presides over the Senate as chair.

Vasquez has been a senator since 2017, sponsoring bills including the Pride in ID Appearance Act and the Refugees Welcome Resolution. Within SA, Vasquez has also put an emphasis on mental health initiatives, something he hopes to continue as SA’s vice president with expanded mental health and wellness resources.

Vasquez tied in his desire to expand mental health resources with the current stress students are feeling due to COVID-19. He believes that College students might find it challenging to admit their true feelings regarding the pandemic.

“I think that is such a twamp thing where we’re scared to admit that we are human and that is something that I really, really, really want to work on with this administration,” Vasquez said.

Vasquez stressed that the uneasiness students feel now is normal.

“That is so human, and that is so acceptable, and that is something we really, really want to work on,” Vasquez said. “That is why I am so big on the whole mental health portion of the platform because I feel like that is the best way to get the information out there.”

In addition to his focus on mental health, Vasquez has also focused on Title IX while Joseph has focused on diversity and finance. These different focal points of their tenures are something that Joseph finds beneficial.

“I think we really complement each other as well as far as what we’ve done.”

“I think we really complement each other as well as far as what we’ve done,” Joseph said.

Although the pair share a vision for what they hope to accomplish in their new roles, Vasquez and Joseph recounted their different styles for approaching bills. Vasquez sees himself more as a dreamer and Joseph more as a planner.

“He is good people person, so he is very good at convincing people and not only convincing them, convincing them with the appropriate information to make things actually happen, and not just dream about them,” Vasquez said.

From friends to candidates

Although their styles for approaching bills differ, according to Joseph, running with Vazquez felt natural. In addition to being in SA together for several years, Vasquez and Joseph have been close friends since being hallmates during their freshman year. Joseph finds that the pair’s friendship and experience in Student Assembly together proves beneficial to their candidacy.

“Now that I think about it, the advantages to the two of us is that we have done a lot of this together,” Joseph said.

“I think we really complement each other as well as far as what we’ve done.”

Vasquez and Joseph recounted one of their favorite memories together helping put on the drag show on the last day of I Am W&M Week. The night of the show, Joseph and Vasquez became last-minute sound and light technicians.

“Ten minutes before the thing starts and Kyle, he’s like, ‘AJ, do you have your laptop here?’ And I’m like, ‘uh, yeah, sure.’ ‘Come up, come up to the booth right now.’ And so we’re trying to figure out how to get the playlist together for these drag queens who were coming on in literally 10 minutes, and I’m like, oh my God, can we figure this out?” Joseph said.

Outside of SA, Vasquez and Joseph share a passion for music. Joseph is in the College’s Wind Ensemble and volunteers as an assistant band director with the Williamsburg-based Warhill High School Marching Lions, teaching students how to march, play their instruments and run drills.

With a similar love for music, Vazquez is the current president of the acapella group Double Take and a member of the William and Mary Choir. Although he plans on becoming a politician, Vasquez’s secret passion inspired his musical pursuit: he dreams of becoming a one-hit wonder.

“I just want one good song,” Vasquez said. “I want it all over the radio, I want to be everywhere, I want everyone to know and I want everyone to dance to it. After that, I’ll never do it again.”

Outside of his musical interests, Joseph is involved in the College’s International Relations Club. Last year, Joseph served on the secretariat of &MUN, the College’s collegiate-level Model United Nations conference, and this year, he works as the logistics director for the club’s travel team.

Inspirations

Joseph and Vasquez also shared their inspirations, both famous and familial.

In addition to being inspired by James Baldwin and some traits of Malcolm X, Joseph’s biggest inspiration in his life is his mom.

“Having her as the only figure has probably been one of the most formative things, and I feel like I have really benefited from that and lessons she has taught me,” Joseph said.

Besides looking up to pop singers Shawn Mendes and Lizzo, Vasquez is inspired by his grandmother. Vasquez and his grandmother are both from Santa Marta, Colombia, but when his grandmother lived in the city, according to Vasquez, life was quite different for residents. Every morning, Vasquez’s grandmother would have to ride for an hour in the back of a farmer’s car with chickens in order to get to her law school.

“Whenever things are really hard, I just remember, hey, I’m not in the back of a van with a bunch of chickens,” Vasquez said.

“Whenever things are really hard, I just remember, hey, I’m not in the back of a van with a bunch of chickens.”

Joseph and Vasquez also recounted the highlights of their time at the College. Joseph, who comes from a small community in New Jersey, said that his highlight of time in Williamsburg is the learning that the community fosters.

“My eyes have just been opened by different academic fields, by different discussions we’ve had, like from SA, or just between friends, and I think that has been one of the more worthwhile things,” Joseph said. “Learning for me isn’t just a nine to five type thing or for whenever I enter the classroom and when I leave the classroom at William and Mary. It’s a experience, and that is one of the things that I will cherish because I don’t know that there’s a whole lot of places like that.”

For Vasquez, it is meeting some of his closest friends through his time as an Orientation Aide and through the acapella community.

“We’ve been good friends for a long time, and it was just a great way to continue this journey and hopefully finish this journey together,” Joseph said.