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Long IslandEducation

Elmont native Michael A. Braun is new student rep on SUNY’s board

The voice for students in the 64-campus system says his experience as a high school senior on LI was the start of his “understanding of leadership.”

Elmont native Michael A. Braun, 22, was sworn

Elmont native Michael A. Braun, 22, was sworn in this week as the student representative on the State University of New York's Board of Trustees. He recently was elected president of the SUNY Student Assembly, which represents more than 600,000 students in the 64-campus system. Photo Credit: SUNY

Long Island native Michael A. Braun was sworn in this week as the newest member of the State University of New York Board of Trustees.

Braun, 22, of Elmont, recently was elected president of the SUNY Student Assembly, which represents the 600,000-plus students throughout the 64-campus system.

He replaced Marc Cohen, a native of upstate Amherst who served as president for the last two years, as the student representative on the public university system’s governing board.

“I enjoy being an advocate for those who don’t generally have a voice. That’s mainly why I joined student government and SUNY SA,” Braun told Newsday. “I care about people; I care about the issues and like to stand up for what’s right.”

Braun is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration and public policy at the University at Albany’s Rockefeller College.

He is a 2013 graduate of Elmont Memorial High School, where as a senior he was president of the student government — an experience he credits as beginning his “understanding of leadership.”

In spring 2017, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from SUNY Cortland, where he served as student government president during his senior year.

During this academic year, he was treasurer for the SUNY Student Assembly. He also has worked as an intern with the North America’s Building Trades Unions in Washington, D.C., and United University Professions in Albany, the union that represents SUNY employees.

Braun said he hopes to help the Student Assembly grow as an “education hub for students,” helping them to understand the issues that affect them on a day-to-day basis and mobilizing them “to stand up for what they believe in.”

The group often appeals to lawmakers and organizes rallies to call for changes in legislation or increased financial support.

The organization this year will continue to focus on college affordability, accessibility and the quality of education at SUNY campuses, he said. Many of those campuses, including Suffolk County Community College, are again looking to increase tuition in the fall as they cope with rising costs, declining enrollments and decreases in direct operating aid from the state.

Other issues at the top of the Student Assembly’s list include tackling food insecurity on campuses, increasing campus safety and focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion, Braun said.

The swearing-in of a new student trustee was “an exciting moment, as we welcome a new voice to the Board, a voice elected by the students to represent them on critical decisions,” SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson said in a news release this week.

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