Sophomore English major Caroline Bradley is the newly elected Student Government Association president for the Hattiesburg campus. Bradley is an Honors College student and Emerging Leader recipient from Lucedale, Miss. We spent time asking Bradley questions about herself and her plans and goals as the new SGA president for the 2016-17 school year.
Q: What led you to attend The University of Southern Mississippi?
A: I always knew about Southern Miss because my mom, her siblings, and her niece and nephews went here, but I was very hesitant to come to school here because I felt like I had big shoes to fill. However, as soon as I went on my campus tour, I realized Southern Miss was a place where I was free to be exactly who I wanted to be and make my own memories without worrying about what my family members did before me. I was allowed to be myself. As soon as I realized that, I knew Southern Miss was the place for me, and everyday I spend on this campus reminds me of how lucky I am to be a Golden Eagle.
Q: Why did you choose English as a major?
A: I originally wanted to major in biology and go to medical school, but then I took human anatomy and physiology in high school and quickly changed my mind. I ended up picking English both for my love of literature and writing and because I want to go to law school. My parents both have law degrees and told me how much English would prepare me. It is just a bonus that I am also in love with my major.
Q: How important do you think it is for students to be involved in the University and why?
A: I think it is of the highest importance. I grew immensely during my freshman year of college and that growth would have been much harder if I had not been involved. The friendships I have made with people who share my same passions and with people who think differently than me have allowed me to grow into the best version of myself.
Q: What other organizations and clubs are you involved in on campus?
A: I am a member of the Chi Omega Sorority. I am also in Honors College, Eagle Connection, Southern Style and the Sigma Tau Delta Honor Society. I served on GEWW Crew 2015, worked in the Office of Admissions as a student tour guide and recruited as a member of Eagle Ambassadors.
Q: What do you like to do during your spare time when you’re not busy with academic work?
A: I love being around people. I enjoy spending time with friends and learning what they are up to in school and outside of the classroom. I just recently played a pick-up soccer game with a few friends, and we ended up meeting about 12 international students. Being able to just be with people is my favorite thing to do when I am not busy doing schoolwork.
Q: What prompted you to get involved in student government?
A: I met Rhea Phillips Valentine at the student involvement fair and basically interrogated her about Freshman Associates and SGA. As soon as she got done telling me about it, I knew this was something I had to get involved in because I did Student Council and loved giving back while in high school. SGA was the perfect way for me to start giving back to Southern Miss, and I love that I get to spend my college career serving such a great university.
Q: What would you describe as the most important leadership skill?
A: Understanding. You have to be willing to listen to all sides of an argument, all ideas for an event, and all the students voicing concerns. Even if you do not agree with what is being said, you have to be open to it. Everyone has a story, and students come from all walks of life. People appreciate feeling like they are safe to say how they feel without being judged; so I think it is important for all leaders to exercise understanding.
Q: What do you believe will be your biggest challenge this semester and how will you utilize certain skills to help you to tackle them?
A: I definitely think one big challenge will be making sure the Southern Miss Spirit of a welcoming environment is constant because it can be affected by what is happening outside of our gates, whether it is in the state, nation or world. Like I said earlier, students come from all walks of life; so we have to make sure all students are comfortable by listening and understanding. The “hominess” of our university is something all students pride themselves on; so we want to make sure everyone feels it.
Q: What are your goals for this year as SGA president?
A: I know this will be a very busy year for me. Most of the events that SGA is known for are undergoing changes that I think will make the events even better, which is hard because the past years have been so successful. Along with event changes, the Student Initiatives branch is taking steps to become closer with the student body. We are also continuing to research the One Card system by focusing on other universities in the tri-state area that use some form of the system.
Q: What are your future career goals and how do you see being SGA president being beneficial to your career choice?
A: One dream is to work with an NCAA athletic team or with a professional team as someone who oversees contracts and make sure no rules or regulations are being violated. I also think it would be really awesome to be a speechwriter for a politician. I think being SGA president will prepare me because I am learning how to operate in a professional atmosphere while also being able to stay connected to students. I am learning when to put on the professional hat and when to put on the student one. I think being able to adapt to your atmosphere is important in any job.
Q: As a student leader, how do you plan to leave Southern Miss better than you found it?
A: I hope to leave behind a legacy of service. I always get a little uncomfortable when I get praise or recognition because I am doing what I love to do. I would serve this university regardless if my service went noticed or unnoticed. When I think about leaving Southern Miss better than I found it, I always hope that students will look at me and talk about the entire SGA team and not just me as an individual. This year will not be successful without the team I have behind me, so I hope that they will be remembered for their hard work. I am just lucky enough to be the one leading them.