Abrianna Reaves has always felt engaged with the University of South Carolina. She went to football games at Williams-Brice Stadium growing up, and her older sister’s friends would tell her about the experiences and bonds they formed at USC.
Reaves felt the connection then — and it stayed with her as she was deciding where to attend college herself.
"Knowing that alumni that have been out of the university for a while still believe their time at USC was useful, and that affects them to this day — and knowing they can still reach out to people they met here — really stuck with me," she says.
Now, she is making her own connections as the student body vice president — a role she never envisioned for herself. She always wanted to be involved on campus but thought she had to be interested in politics or law to serve in student government.
"It's not a very diplomatic role that directly resembles government," says Reaves, a third-year marketing and finance major. "It's a lot of learning interpersonal skills and how to communicate with administration and people of authority, but also kind of being able to listen to, in this case, the student body."
But college has a way of changing people. Her sophomore year, Reaves joined the Greek relations committee as the first professional fraternity representative and realized she had until then had the wrong impression. She enjoyed being a voice for her fraternity and getting involved with service projects offered through student government.
Her interest in running for vice president grew after learning about the work done by student government communications and event planning. She had seen how previous engagement at student government-hosted events was handled and thought that it could be improved — by her.
She explains that more than posting on student government social platforms is needed to keep engagement up. Face-to-face engagement also matters. She wants to establish outreach positions to communicate with campus organizations and leadership to see what attracts students and collect data during events to see how many students were engaged and why.
"It's important for the general student body to know what we're doing and what we're putting out there because it's for them," she says. "It's just hard to reach out sometimes."
Though student government and marketing may seem like an odd pair, Reaves has been able to incorporate the things she's learning in the classroom in her new role. She's been able to apply different marketing techniques to see what appeals most to students.
Her end goal is to help students get involved and to ensure they know about all the on-campus resources at their disposal so they can succeed.
"The fact that we can create our own opportunities to serve the community and have some freedom draws me in because it's a student-run organization, but it's also an entity of the university," she says. "Having the opportunity to have a larger impact on campus motivates me."