By: Erich Gillespie (Whetstone staff)
From handing out noise violations as a resident assistant to dreams of handing out legislative amendments as a U.S. senator, Kira Tieman knows she has a long way to go.
Even so, she is enjoying the ride, a ride that already has taken her nearly 3,000 miles from her hometown in Hillsboro, Ore., and from dance studios to Student Government Association cabinet meetings.
Now, she hopes that her recent victory as new president of the SGA is just one of many she will experience in her career.
“I aspire to be a politician,” Tieman said. “I’ve got some experience interning in Oregon’s House of Representatives and did some work in the Delaware senate, involvement that put me right in the middle of where I ultimately want to be.”
Her passion for politics came at a young age ─ a moment that also shaped American history.
“The first time I remember caring about politics was when 9-11 happened,” Tieman recalls. “Me and my friends were talking about it one day. We were probably just repeating what we overheard our parents saying, but I was definitely alarmed.”
Her political dreams are a far cry from what she thought her original calling had been.
“When I was younger, I wanted to be a singer and dancer,” she said. “I was in the choir, danced competitively in middle school, and was on the dance team in high school. I just loved it.”
Running opposite Tieman in this year’s SGA election was Michael Collis, who expects that she will do well as President.
“We actually share many of the same views on student rights and such,” he said. “The only thing I hope for is for her to be as progressive as I would be in setting an agenda for enhancing student life here at Wesley and making sure those policies are carried out.”
Dr. Cynthia Newton, SGA adviser and political science professor, said Tieman will leave a “a lasting positive legacy and Wesley College will be a better place due to her efforts.”
Tieman, a member of Wesley College’s step team, got involved with dancing at a young age ─ urged by her mother.
“Until the age of 11, I was raised in a single parent household,” she said. “I admire my mom for working to provide for my sisters and I and the amount of time she spent with us.”
Her hometown in Oregon, she said, is wet, cold and rainy, stuck between farming areas and city life, just 30 minutes east of Portland.
“I came to Delaware and fell in love with the east coast,” Tieman said.
For Tieman, a fierce, competitive drive is neatly hidden behind a warm smile and a bright personality.
“She’s very friendly and understanding, always trying to bring people together,” said Cristina Bettencourt, a former roommate and friend of Tieman’s.
A confirmed zebra addict, Tieman said her faults include terrible handwriting and an even worse love life.
“I’m so busy, I don’t even think about guys,” she said. “I just don’t have time.”
If politics fails, she said she wants to be a firefighter. “Even though I’m deathly afraid of heights ─and fires,” she said.
The daughter of William Tieman, a police officer, and Michele Tieman, an Oregon state employee, Tieman has her sights set on doctoral programs, Senate seats, a governorship – and has not ruled out the possibility of running the country one day.
“She is bright and has a healthy curiosity,” Professor Jeffrey Mask said.
A religion and philosophy instructor at Wesley, Mask has had Tieman in his Honors class.
“She has some strongly held opinions, not unusual for a political science major, but she is willing and able to see another person’s position,” Mask said. “Kira was usually able to give good reasons for thinking what she does on a given issue.”
Tieman also has an ear for Christian music and an obsession with cookie dough ice cream.
“As a friend, she is very trustworthy, honest, and reliable,” said Taylor Mushrush, a psychology major and close friend of Tieman. “I know I can always count on her for anything and everything.”
Mask likes her dedication to the college.
“I think Kira cares about Wesley and about the student experience here,” Mask said. “She is articulate, which I think is important to leadership. Her abilities to state her view, to see the point of an opposing view, and to disagree agreeably are good qualities to have in an SGA president.”
With so many students looking to her for much-needed leadership, Tieman cites Sarah Palin as her own biggest political influence.
“She’s such a strong woman who doesn’t back down from anyone,” she said. “If you stand for what you believe in, I think that’s great.”