A Year as Student Body President

It is hard to believe that in three short months, my time at Carolina will come to a close and I will be diving head first into the real world. As I reflect on the last four years of my life, several memories rush to the front of my mind: freshman year living in East Quad, Saturdays in Williams-Brice, a basketball season ending with a National Championship & a Final Four appearance (and the celebration that ensued), exploring the Columbia food scene with friends, and learning more than I thought possible. Each individual experience helps to develop the full picture of my experience here at UofSC, but none have impacted my time more than my year as Student Body President.

When I was inaugurated last March, I admittedly was not sure what I had gotten myself into. I had heard about the late work nights, the frequent speeches and the importance of always having a tie and blazer handy, just in case. I knew my goals and platforms inside and out, and had plans in place to work with the team to make them a reality. However, I did not know the impact that serving as Student Body President would have on who I would become.

Putting myself out there for the entire student body during the campaign was one of the most vulnerable points in my life, and acting as Student Body President has had its challenges too. As with anything in life, there were moments of the presidency where I made mistakes and had my doubts. But on the tough days, I leaned on my friends and peers and remembered why I ran in the first place — to make sure every Gamecock felt welcome and had a voice at every level of this university.

Throughout this year, I’ve had several experiences in which I thought, “How am I lucky enough to be here right now?” One of my favorite of those moments included attending a dinner with the United States Surgeon General, Dr. Jerome Adams. At the dinner, we discussed a variety of health care topics, including the opioid epidemic & the importance of collaborative health care in the state. I felt so fortunate to learn from the nation’s top healthcare professional, and to be able to discuss causes that truly mattered to both of us as Public Health supporters and as African American males.

My term began with several ambitious goals and initiatives, like fighting the stigma around mental health, guest tickets at sporting events, and laying the groundwork of the planning process for the new student union. Working to achieve these goals and others as Student Body President has been an exciting journey that taught me a variety of lessons. From conflict management, budget processes, to learning how to communicate with a wide range of people, these skills are ones that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.

My experience as Student Body President is one that I will always value and reflect on as the highlight of my college career. Being able to listen to student issues, fight to solve them, and be the voice in rooms where students aren’t always heard
has been incredibly rewarding, and I will cherish this experience forever. The University of South Carolina has given me so much and I can’t wait to give back in the next chapter of my life, as an alum.

Forever To Thee,

J. Taylor Wright

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