By Lucy Dekkenga
Girls State erupted as Ruhama Tereda was announced the 2017 governor, bringing two parties together in unity to celebrate the election of their new governor.
A smile across her face, Tereda’s face gleamed with excitement and honor when she walked on stage to join her state officers, presented to the delegates for the first time Friday morning at general assembly in Aalfs Auditorium Slagle Hall.
“I remember feeling gratefulness and immense honor,” Tereda said. “I’m still in shock and I’m still not realizing that I got (governor).”
Along with the honor of being elected, Tereda received the honor of becoming one of the very few governors of color — an honor she does not take lightly.
“I’m honored and I want to inspire other young women of color and minorities in general that leadership opportunities, educational opportunities and every opportunity is available to them and that they can reach those,” Tereda said. “If I can do it, you can do it.”
Much like his daughter, Tereda’s father, Ayele Tereda was pleased with the outcome of the election, noting her dedication.
“She worked hard,” he said. “If she sets her mind, she can accomplish anything. I’m very happy for her.”
Former governor Raina Grimsley knows Tereda will succeed in the role, too.
“She’s really positive, which is extremely important,” Grimsley said. “She sets a good example for the other girls by being positive and social.”
In her own humble way, Tereda attributes her success of becoming governor to those around her.
“I’m in awe of these girls and of how much these girls have put into Girls State, how much they’re getting out of Girls State and how committed they are,” she said.
Tereda believes the experience serving as governor will be benefit her as she becomes more aware of the different people in South Dakota.
“Living in Sioux Falls, I don’t get the full South Dakota experience, and I think that this role will help me relate to people from rural South Dakota and West River. I think that in order for me to have a wholesome, comprehensive view of South Dakota, it would be nice for me to get that different perspective,” Tereda said.
Tereda would like to remain in touch with as many girls from around the state as she can.
“I’m going to try to stay in touch with as many Girls Staters as I can, because we have ideas and we have great leadership within the ALA Girls State (State), and I’m only here to broadcast their ideas — to help people get their ideas out,” Tereda said.
Adding to the ideas she will get from the 2017 delegates, Tereda has some ideas of her own, like having counselors talk with their delegates beforehand about the small details regarding to look forward to and tell them about their cities before coming to Girls State.
“We need to tell more girls to look on (the website) for more information, and in order for them to get that information we need to have a lot of detail with what’s going to come.”
This idea for a better advertised Girls State exemplifies the attentiveness Tereda has for each person she meets.
“Ruhama is extremely passionate, intelligent, kind, and she makes everyone feel included,” said Nareen Barwari, a delegate from Baltimore and new Girls State Secretary of State. “For every person she talks to, they feel like they have connection with her because she makes them feel like they are important.”
Tereda believes that through these ideas, delegates will be prepared for their Girls State session and that an even more successful Girls State will occur.
“I think Girls State does an amazing job of empowering (delegates). Once we diminish our anxiety we can really focus on that,” Tereda said.
Tereda will bring her ideas and personable characteristics to Girls State next summer to lead the 2018 session.
“I think she’ll do great,” Barwari said. “She has a lot of really good ideas, she comes up with things, and she has so much ingenuity to improve what’s already great about Girls State. She’s going to make everyone feel so good about being here because she personally cares and appreciates that they’re here.”
Read more about Tereda here.