Aaron Vance, a senior Political Science and Anthropology double major at the University of Louisville, has recently been appointed as the 2016-2017 Student Government Association president. The Vine Grove, Ky., native has long held an interest in government and policy and has actively been involved in political organizations since high school. He attended the Governor’s Scholars Program at Centre College before applying and being accepted into UofL’s McConnell Scholars Program his senior year.
Fresh off of high school graduation, Vance interned with the Kentucky Secretary of State’s office, saying it “validated everything about wanting to get involved with politics, government and the law.”
Fast forward to his senior year in college and Vance remains active in the McConnell Scholars Program, as well as with his fraternity Phi Kappa Tau, both Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science and Order of Omega Honor Societies, and now with heading UofL’s student government.
UofLNews had the chance to talk to Vance about his goals as SGA president, his interests, and his plans for the future.
UofLNews: What’s your favorite thing about UofL?
Vance: The city of Louisville. I have lived in the Commonwealth of Kentucky my entire life, and there just isn’t anything like it. Everything about Louisville is just something special. The culture, the people, and the food are always great. I’ve been living in the city for three years now, and I am still not done exploring it.
UofLNews: How long have you been involved in SGA?
Vance: I have been involved with SGA since I came to campus in 2013. In my first year I served as Task Force Freshman, working with the Political Coordinator, and that following year served as Political Coordinator where I organized our advocacy platform, lead SGA’s advocacy arm, Cards in Action, coordinated political forums, and voter registration initiatives. Last year, I served as Chief of Staff to then President Victoria Allen, and this year I am excited and honored to serve as Student Body President.
UofLNews: What made you pursue this leadership role in the organization?
Vance: I was excited to take the step to the next level. In those previous capacities I was able to be involved in conversations and a part of the process and was able to see how SGA functioned. That acquired knowledge and an acumen of the issues made this year seem like the perfect (year) to get involved and the best time to facilitate the changes around campus. All of that, coupled with a passion for helping amplify the student voice really pushed me to take this on, and every day I work to continue to do just that.
UofLNews: What are your biggest goals as SGA president?
- As always it’s been the prerogative of SGA to interject the student voice into the various processes and decisions of the university and this year that isn’t going to be any different as we engage in a presidential search or other conversations that will shape the direction and trajectory of the university.
- We will continue to advocate for a tuition and budgeting model that is sustainable and works to remove the burden of increasing debt on students.
- As an SGA we want to continue to highlight and develop effective and sustainable solutions for the issues and concerns of the students with regards to services like support services, parking, safety, and library services. This past year also saw a lot of change and we are excited to work with our newest partners, Aramark and Follett, in working to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to interject the student voice as they settle in at UofL.
UofLNews: What are your biggest challenges serving in this role? Your biggest rewards?
Vance: With 24,000 constituents (the student body) it’s going to be hard to develop a panacea for every problem that is bound to arise in my tenure. It can be hard to reach students and to get them plugged in sometimes, but we are always working to improve our connections, be more transparent, and get information out about what we’re doing. Sometimes, the issues are just, complex… and it requires a lot of study, a lot of brainstorming, and a lot of failed tries at working to solutions. But it’s in times like that I am able to enjoy some of the biggest rewards. When we’re able to work through a problem and develop a plan to mitigate a problem or even implement a solution, especially after we thought we have exhausted every option, or thought we couldn’t do something at first; you can’t beat it.
UofLNews: How would you describe your leadership style?
Vance: I like to delegate. I know I can’t do everything myself, nor should I even try. I appreciate the input of experts, love to bring together all of the necessary pieces and develop strategic plans and initiatives and then layout plans of how and who should execute the plans we have developed. Because of that you can imagine there are quite a few ‘team’ meetings on my schedule, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
UofLNews: When your time as president comes to an end, what do you hope your legacy as SGA president will be?
Vance: I hope that we were able to develop and refocus the vision of SGA. With so much change going on at UofL, SGA has to change with it. In the eight years since our new Constitution was installed, in the four years since the Student 2020 Plan was revised, much has changed. And given the short term in which we have to work in, a lot of the things we seek to accomplish require more time. And to be successful in that endeavor we must layout long-term visions in which subsequent administrations are able to plug into and adjust as needed.
UofLNews: What do you like to do in your free time?
Vance: I am an avid outdoorsman and have been my whole life. I usually head out to the Parklands or Cherokee if I have the chance on the weekends and bring my bike along. When I can get out of town I love heading out to the lake. Most recently, my roommates have gotten me hooked on FIFA on the X-Box. I can’t say I have gotten very good yet.
UofLNews: What’s your favorite book?
Vance: ‘Fahrenheit 451’ by Ray Bradbury
UofLNews: Favorite restaurant?
Vance: The Irish Rover
UofLNews: Favorite class?
Vance: That’s tough. Dr. Laura Moyer’s Constitutional Law – Civil Liberties course and Dr. Jasmine Farrier’s American Parties and Elections course I think are tied for first.
UofLNews: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Vance: It’s hard to pick one. But one on my mind lately came from Dr. Thomas Mackey in the History department, “Think Big.”
UofLNews: What do you hope to be doing five years from now?
Vance: Hopefully I will have graduated law school with my J.D. and passed the bar wherever I may be, but hopefully that’s back in the Commonwealth. I really want to work in the field of election and campaign politics and hopefully will be able to land back here doing just that.