Thursday, November 15, 2018

Leadership lived: UIS gives sophomore the chance to work on statewide political campaigns and lead on campus

Political Science major Andrew Cunningham is only in his second year at the University of Illinois Springfield, however he’s already been a part of at least four political campaigns, including a statewide governor’s race.

On campus, Cunningham is the internal vice president for the Student Government Association (SGA), the vice president of the College Republicans, a member of the Student Advocacy Coalition, Campus Senate and is a Capital Scholars Honors Program member and peer mentor.

“Because UIS is a small campus, I’m able to get involved in things I wouldn’t be able to as an underclassman,” he said. “Being a part of SGA is something that most people probably don’t get to do until they’ve really been there a long time. I did that starting as a freshman. That’s something I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else.”

As the vice president of the College Republicans, Cunningham recently took part in a political debate with members of the College Democrats. The students debated a variety of issues that they believe are important.

“I think the debate gave people the opportunity to see two perspectives and make their own decisions,” he said. “People who agree were able to have their voices heard and then people who disagreed were able to hear something they might not have heard before.”

Cunningham, who is from Decatur, Illinois, says he’s always been politically active.

“I like politics because it allows me to get involved and actually make a difference and not just be a bystander because everybody wants to talk about the news and what goes on in our world, but really being involved in politics gives you a hand in the action,” he said.

Cunningham says he’s learned many lessons about leadership at UIS, including that actions sometimes speak louder than words.

“I think that UIS gives people a unique experience because when we talk about leadership at UIS, it’s not just putting words on papers, it’s actually putting things into action whether it be Student Government, whether it be Student Advocacy Coalition, whatever it is, being a mentor,” he said. “It allows me to live leadership, which is why I enjoy being at UIS because it’s more than just talking. It’s doing.”

Following graduation from UIS, Cunningham plans to attend graduate school and start a career as a legislative aide. He’s also considering a career in public relations or political journalism.

“I’m very happy I came to UIS,” he said. “It’s the place for me. It’s provided me the opportunities I need and I think it’s really preparing me for the next stage in my life.”

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