SRU seeks new student trustee as Cierra Mitchell prepares for law school


Student taking the oath

After being sworn in last spring, Cierra Mitchell has served on the Slippery Rock University’s council of trustees as a student representative. SRU is now seeking a new student trustee as Mitchell’s term expires upon her graduation in May.

Feb. 14, 2024

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — A year ago, Cierra Mitchell was applying to be a member of the Slippery Rock University's council of trustees. She was offered the one seat designated for a student on the University's 12-person governing body last spring, and since then she received four offers to attend law school. While Mitchell takes her pick where to study law, and votes on executive actions in her final days as a trustee, SRU has a decision to make: choosing the next student trustee

Candidates can come from any major or have any professional aspiration. And, although they won't be guaranteed placement in their desired job or graduate school, they will be provided a valuable experience that will benefit them in their career.

"This role teaches you more about the way the world works, especially in a boardroom setting," said Mitchell, senior political science major from Pittsburgh. "Just being able to see what goes on behind the scenes, how things operate and to talk with decision-makers, that's such a valuable experience. It helps you grow professionally and personally as you move forward in your career."

Mitchell, an aspiring civil rights attorney, said that being a student trustee helped her develop both hard and soft skills.

"You learn how to go into rooms, even when you may not immediately feel comfortable, and become confident interacting with people who might think differently than you," Mitchell said. "I also honed my research skills, having to read through all the information and understand nuances of the role, as well as learning how to write and speak well in new and different situations. I feel more confident in communicating with others and getting my point across."

"All of the student trustees we've had while I've been here have been superb," said Domenic Ionta, chair of the SRU council of trustees. "They are able to contribute by offering their opinions, and they are able to get an important perspective outside of the student experience. They're able to understand being a trustee which helps in their growth and development. Cierra is a great example because she was able to think things through and she always voted how she felt."

SRU is now accepting applications to replace Mitchell, whose appointment expires when she graduates. To be eligible, applicants must be a full-time undergraduate student at SRU in good academic standing at the sophomore or above level and enrolled for at least 12 semester hours. Interested students can apply online by March 8 and learn more at

A selection committee consisting of three employee union representatives and a representative from the Slippery Rock Student Government Association will review applicants and interview candidates before recommending a student to SRU President Karen Riley. The successful candidate's name is forwarded to the Office of the Chancellor of Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education and they must be approved by the state's board of governors.

The student representative on the council of trustees has the same voting privileges as the other trustees. The trustees are responsible for reviewing the administrative and academic operations of the University and protecting the interests of both students and the commonwealth. They have quarterly business meetings but also meet as called upon to address ad hoc issues.

Mitchell was able to balance the responsibilities well. She even completed an internship in Washington, D.C., during her time as student trustee. Last summer, she worked 30 hours per week in the office of U.S. Rep. Al Green from Texas. Additionally, Mitchell applied and was accepted to four law schools -- Duquesne, Penn State, American and George Washington -- some with scholarships offers exceeding $10,000.

Mitchell's last quarterly meetings as an SRU trustee is March 21-22 before the next trustee starts June 13-14.

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