Hildreth eager to step into vice-president role

by Megh Duwadi | 5/16/02 5:00am

For Julia Hildreth '05, attending Dartmouth was "a childhood dream."

The student body vice president-elect, a native of Gilford, N.H., said that her aspiration to attend the College grew out of early visits to Hanover with her father, a salesman.

"I always used to come up when I was little," Hildreth said.

Even Hildreth's most elaborate dreams did not encompass her rapid rise this year in student government, a field in which she had participated throughout high school despite becoming disillusioned by its apparent lack of efficacy. Her decision to join Dartmouth's Student Assembly last fall has reaped large dividends.

"I was involved with student government in high school, but I was frustrated at the end with the typical projects," Hildreth said. "Here, I was excited to find student government based on student advocacy."

In less than three terms at the College, Hildreth has been elected as representative for the River dorm cluster and as interim Assembly secretary, filling in for Steve Zyck '04 during Winter term. Current president Molly Stutzman '02 also named her Assembly communications chair. Last month, she defeated her opponent, Stephanie Bonan '03, in a hotly contested race for the Assembly vice presidency.

Already in daily contact with president-elect Janos Marton '04 to develop an outline for next year's Assembly, Hildreth stressed that her status as a freshman does not imply inexperience or an inability to lead the student body.

"One of the things that both Janos and I can bring into the position is a sense of continuity" in future years, she said.

Hildreth added that while she will serve all students as vice president, advocacy for the Class of 2005 will remain a priority during her term.

"I think the '05s have a voice that needs to be heard," she said. "I'm committed to representing the '05s."

Dedication to student government is just one of Hildreth's passions. Now a member of Dartmouth's alpine ski team, she began skiing as a toddler in the resort town of Crested Butte, Colo., and continued her love of the sport while racing for her high school's club team.

Hildreth is also involved in the Big Brother/Big Sister mentor program, the tap-dance troupe Steppin' Out and Ivy Council, where she serves as treasurer. Next year, she will work as an undergraduate adviser in the Fayerweather dorm cluster.

"I realize that SA will be my top priority" next year, Hildreth said. "The activities that I do are fairly flexible, so it should be fine."

Ski team captain Lizzy Carroll '02 agreed. "I know Julia can handle it, and I'm glad she took the initiative," she said.

Carroll cited Hildreth's perseverance, friendliness and modesty as key attributes to her success on and off the slopes.

"She's a really talented ski racer, but she's really modest and would never claim credit for herself and would always be the first to congratulate others," Carroll said.

As an intercollegiate athlete, Hildreth said that she hopes to appeal to a portion of the student population that has traditionally been inactive in the Assembly's affairs.

"It's a great opportunity to bring some different people in," she said.

A potential English and government double major, Hildreth added that such constituent involvement needs to be complemented by greater interaction among Assembly officers and the students they represent. She hopes to work with Marton to redefine the Assembly's image and to make its successes more widely known. Gilford's proximity will allow Hildreth to visit Dartmouth during the summer to continue these efforts.

"I think we'll be off to a good start" for Fall term, she said.

Current Assembly vice president Mike Newton '04 agreed, expressing confidence and support for his successor, although he added that the vice presidency entails much "behind-the-scenes" work he was unaware of before he began to serve as vice president.

"I think freshmen can really bring a lot of positive energy and a new perspective to SA," Newton said. "I think she'll do a good job."

Among Hildreth's skills, Newton noted, is "working on her feet and handling problems with a fair amount of dexterity and competence."

Though her involvement in student government has no end in sight, Hildreth said that she does not aspire to become a career politician. Legal work -- contingent on her decision to attend law school -- or a teaching position near a winter resort town currently rank high on her agenda for the future.

"I've got three more years to decide," she said with an unassuming smile.