Ray Palma ’23 has been elected as president of the UNC Association of Student Governments (UNC ASG), the student-led, state-wide governance body for the 240,000 students and 17 institutions of the UNC System.
As president, Ray will serve as the student member on the UNC Board of Governors, representing the voice of students throughout the state in the planning, development, and governance of the UNC System.
The business administration and public policy double major said he looks forward to collaborating with each institution, the board, and the North Carolina General Assembly on behalf of all UNC System students.
“I’m committed to remaining focused on elevating the voices of students in order to ensure an affordable, accessible, and robust higher education experience in North Carolina,” the scholar said.
The incoming president cited closing the funding gap for historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and minority-serving institutions (MSI) as one of his top priorities next year, which he hopes to achieve through collaboration with students and community stakeholders. He said assessing the “differing needs of graduate and professional students” will also be key in facilitating a more inclusive educational environment.
“These are not easy tasks, but with continuous advocacy about the challenges that students face, I’m confident we can build an even better UNC System experience for all,” said Ray, who plans to expand partnerships with the North Carolina Community College System and myFutureNC in order to ensure more affordable tuition. “Higher education remains the backbone of North Carolina’s economy and well-being, and I’m excited to see what we—including UNC System President Peter Hans, UNC System Board of Governors Chair Randy Ramsey, the board members, and all of our student representatives—can accomplish together.”
UNC ASG consists of student delegates from each of the 16 public universities and the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, who collaborate to ensure the affordability, accessibility, and safety of the UNC System.
Ray previously served as vice president of government outreach for UNC ASG, where he organized and facilitated a legislative advocacy week involving more than 50 students and 13 state legislators to advocate for student emergency funds and increased state-funded financial aid during the global COVID-19 pandemic. He also managed around $8,500 in departmental funds designated for student advocacy initiatives in North Carolina.
In the UNC Undergraduate Student Government Executive Branch, the scholar recently served as director of state relations.
In addition to his work with UNC ASG, Ray is a consultant in the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School’s Student Teams Achieving Results (STAR) Program, a treasurer on the board of directors for the Daily Tar Heel, a research assistant in the Department of Public Policy, secretary of the Durham City Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee, and co-director of development for the UNC Asian American Center Campaign (co-founded by fellow Morehead-Cain Scholar Sean Nguyen ’21).