Michael Lynch, the new president of the Student Government Association (SGA) and a fifth year student majoring in organizational communication and minoring in finance, took a few minutes to share his thoughts about SGA, leadership and his time at DePaul. Read on to learn more about Michael, his leadership and his commitment to DePaul.
You’re in SGA. Why was it important to you to be involved in SGA?
The idea of being a selfless public servant is what inspired me to get involved in Student Government Association. I love DePaul University, and to have the opportunity to advocate on behalf of students is an honor and privilege because I recognize, and appreciate, the power of “we.” SGA humbles you very quickly and teaches you that there is very little that can be accomplished by an individual, but instead, most significant change requires collaboration. Much of what SGA advocates for requires systemic change, whether it be policy or resource allocation, and SGA puts you into the conversation with a variety of individuals ranging from students and student organizations, faculty and staff, administration and civic leaders throughout the city that have the wherewithal to accomplish those goals.
What part of your SGA experience so far has surprised you? Has challenged you?
The collaborative nature of administration, staff and students shocked me. Before I got involved in SGA, I will admit, I felt disenfranchised from DePaul. I came to class and went home. After I tapped into the DePaul community, my experience changed tremendously and to meet so many people who support one another was eye opening and made all the difference.
Finding the balance between Michael the president and Michael the person has been challenging. I joke often and say DePaul breeds work horses that don’t know when to take a break, but that has been the case for me. Also, the political climate has been very challenging. Unfortunately, we’re at a time where people aren’t talking to each other anymore, but instead at each other, so getting back to a place where we can have meaningful cultural conversations is something I hope we see in this upcoming school year.
Why run for SGA president?
Morale on campus this past year was at an all-time low, and that can be attributed to a variety of factors ranging from the political climate to their DePaul experience in general. With DePaul transitioning into a new era with a new president, similarly, students wanted to see SGA working to change as well. I decided to run for president to push SGA to be more inclusive, community-oriented, and student-committed by working off the successes of past administrations, but also exploring more innovative ways to uplift student voices. “All Hands on Deck” was more than our campaign slogan, it became a guiding principle.
Does being on SGA complement your in-class studies? If so, how?
As an organizational communication major, my job is to analyze how current communication practices in organizations affect overall productivity, which has translated well to Student Government. It requires you to ask what others need in order to accomplish their goals, understanding the role you play in that process, and being able to formulate action plans.
What have you learned about leadership through your work with others on campus?
In order to lead, you have to listen. There is a misconception that the best leaders are those with the loudest voice and who have the answers to all the problems, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. It’s about working collaboratively with individuals across the spectrum to find solutions to key problems. By being an active listener, you have not only gained a new perspective but also have built a bridge into a community.
What has been your favorite class and why?
My favorite class so far at DePaul has been my Discover class that I took in Fall of 2013 entitled “Being a Man of Color in Chicago” taught by Vijay Pendakur. It was in this class that I began to unpack my identities, analyze how they intersect, and what role they play in my life, whether it be professionally or privately.
What is your most memorable experience at DePaul?
My most memorable DePaul experience would be becoming SGA President. It was something I spent four years working towards, and it was such a surreal feeling.
What is your favorite DePaul tradition?
Vincentian Service Day because it brings the entire DePaul community together for a common cause, which is service.
What are your future plans?
I hope to become a political staffer after I graduate, working to push forward progressive legislation, at the local, state and federal level, while also working to increase representation of women and people of color in politics by ensuring they become elected.
Tell us 3 fun facts about yourself.
- Being a soccer dad is on my vision board at home.
- I know every lyric to every Beyoncé song on all her albums and have a strategic plan to work for her one day.
- When I graduate, I will be the first man on my dad’s side to have a college degree.