October 15, 2016

SGA President Aaron Vance credits upbringing for his leadership success

By Jared Thomas–

Aaron Vance’s smile was easy and wide and he spoke with an unmistakable twang that only the boroughs of Western Kentucky could produce. The two of us walked through campus, making our way to an office he never struggled to settle into.

Vance took office in May as the new president of Student Government Association. He spoke with his hands in big, friendly gestures that filled the room like a well-placed laugh. He felt larger than life in his office situated on the rooftop corner of the SAC.

“I had the opportunity to grow up on the farm, but I also had the opportunity to grow up in a very diverse community,” Vance said. Born 45 minutes away in Hardin County, Vance spoke of the unique perspectives offered by the urban-rural sprawl of Fort Knox.

“I could walk through my high school halls and I could hear seven different languages being spoken. It was rural, with the different amenities of living in the country, if you could consider them amenities. But I also had the opportunity to be exposed to a variety of different cultures,” Vance said.

He was quick to note diversity as a cornerstone of what U of L stood for. This early exposure to a diverse lifestyle had a lasting effect on the man in front of me.

This leadership seems to permeate everything Vance does. Vance credits his early days for this.

“I really feel like it gave me a unique perspective, one that a lot of students didn’t have coming into college,” Vance said.

Serving as the president of the SGA was not Vance’s first foray into student government. Back in Elizabethtown, Vance served as president of his class three years at North Hardin High School.

“My mom was a teacher there, so I couldn’t get by with mostly anything,” Vance said

His first peek into student government at U of L came more than a year before he even stepped foot on the campus. “My RA at GSP really got me interested in the idea,” Vance said.

His start on Taskforce Freshmen led him to SGA. On the recommendation of Chase Riddle, Vance spent his freshman year laying the groundwork for the university’s Frankfort-based advocacy programs.

Under the next administration, Vance became the next political coordinator, directing that same advocacy work on a larger scale.

Watching him behind his imposing desk, it was almost impossible to put him in the shoes of someone who had not always been president of something or leading someone.

Photo Courtesy / Aaron Vance

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