The 66th: Students elect first international SG president, Roy Carrillo Zamora

Roy Carrillo Zamora will serve as the first international SG president for the 2024-2025 school year. Photo credit: Courtesy of Roy Carrillo Zamora

On Feb. 22, Roy Carrillo Zamora, Joshua Abel and Zoe Mutombo stood near the crowded U Statue, eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 66th student body president. After much anticipation, Carrillo Zamora was declared the first international student body president, with Abel as vice president and Mutombo as treasurer.

“Hearing the results was such a relief for me. It all worked out,” Carrillo Zamora said.

Carrillo Zamora, a legal studies and business analytics major, and Abel, a political science and French major, have dreamed of running for the Student Government executive board since their freshman year.

“I vividly remember sitting at The Rat with Roy midway through our freshman year and proposing the idea of running on a Student Government Executive ticket together for our senior year,” Abel said.

Serving as the director of academic affairs this past school year, Carrillo Zamora has taken great strides to make the student body feel supported and connected.

“Roy is a phenomenal student leader,” said Mutombo, a junior health management and policy major. “Since his freshman year, he has dedicated his time at UM to increase academic and professional development opportunities for students through his various involvements.”

A dream born in Costa Rica

Born and raised in San Jose, Costa Rica, Carrillo Zamora was constantly surrounded by family who taught him to appreciate the opportunities given to him.

“My parents are my biggest supporters and cheerleaders,” Carrillo Zamora said.

During high school, Carrillo Zamora ventured out of Costa Rica to England where he participated in a three-week study abroad program at the University of Oxford. This trip showed Carrillo Zamora how much more there was to the world than San Jose, and solidified his desire to study abroad for college.

“My dad’s dream was always to study abroad, but unfortunately he couldn’t,” Carrillo Zamora said. “My dad was the happiest and most supportive when I decided to come to the U.S. to study, and that is because his dream would come true through me.”

His family’s support followed him to UM, especially when his younger brother became a student in fall 2023.

“This dream gave my education a deeper meaning, and it is still what motivates me to be better and to take advantage of all of my opportunities,” Carrillo Zamora said.

When Carrillo Zamora told his family that he had won the election, they were ecstatic. Their pride and excitement helped him realize that he was responsible for providing that same support to the UM community.

“Now I have the power to help students better their experiences at the University and transform their lives, just like mine was,” Carrillo Zamora said.

Diversity and belonging

Carrillo Zamora’s departure from his familiar home environment has come with surprises and opened his eyes to different cultures and people from around the world.

“In Costa Rica, I lived in a very homogenous environment, I would see a lot of people similar to me,” he said. “When I came to Miami, I got to interact with people from different cultures and backgrounds, and I learned a lot from them.”

The campus gave him a sense of belonging and support that he knew he could not get anywhere else.

“UM showed me that I could be myself and also achieve greater things,” Carrillo Zamora said.

Mentorship and aspiring for more

Carrillo Zamora’s path through UM has been guided by the mentors who have inspired and encouraged him to excel.

One of his early mentors, business law professor Mark Shapiro, asked Carrillo Zamora about his hope for the future.

“Have you considered going to Law School?” Shapiro asked. “I think you would be great at it.”

Carrillo Zamora, hesitant to expect more from the U.S. and feeling grateful for the college experience, was unsure if this path would be realistic. To that, Shapiro responded, “The sky’s the limit.”

“Roy is ambitious and driven,” Shapiro said. “He is also extremely bright, analytical and an excellent problem solver. He leads with his heart, and I have no doubt that he will have a major influence on campus this year.”

Now, Carrillo Zamora can regularly be spotted reading through a book on negotiation tactics or corporate law, some “light” reading to prepare him for the future.

Carrillo Zamora also found a mentor in Dr. Heather Stevens, director of divisional initiatives & student advocacy, who has supported him through his years in Student Government.

“I first met Roy when he was serving on the Student Government’s First-Year Leadership Council. Ever since, I have been consistently impressed by Roy’s drive, maturity and critical thinking. He goes out of his way to hear from others, learn their perspectives, and put the lessons into practice,” Stevens said.

Carrillo Zamora expressed how her support reinforced his self-confidence.

“I owe her so much, she believed in me, so I ended up believing in myself,” Carrillo Zamora said.

Presidential initiatives and goals

In his new role, Carrillo Zamora wants to transform students’ lives, similar to how his life was changed for the better as a UM student. He believes that every student should be in an environment where they can grow into the best versions of themselves and hopes to foster that on campus.

“You can change the world,” Carrillo Zamora said. “You are enough [and] you can aspire for more.”

His initiatives include advocating for student leaders, creating a space for student employment, improving financial resources and creating a town hall.

The creation of the town hall would serve as a space for students to directly discuss issues with Student Government. Carrillo Zamora’s goal is to show students that Student Government is approachable. He wants to be an advocate for all students.

“Roy has always been such a light to the UM community since his first day on campus,” Abel said. “He has this intrinsic motivation to get things done and make the UM experience better for everyone.”

Carrillo Zamora is still figuring out how his story after graduation will play out, but for now is focusing on closing his last year at UM by giving back to the community that reshaped his life. the importance of his role as president he is very excited for what’s to come.

“If through my work as president, I can extend the welcoming and accepting environment I experienced at UM to every student, it would be the greatest privilege of my undergraduate career,” Carrillo Zamora said.