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“Any office is not about trying to feel more confident about oneself, but to actually make a difference in the community and use the position to better peoples’ lives.”

Pictured above: VOX ATL staff writer Ashleigh Ewald at Oglethorpe University

Running for Class President: A Love-Hate Relationship

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The title Class President can be viewed as a considerable achievement, but some see success before seeing the past struggles and the process of what it takes to become elected. Therefore, here is my experience as a college student who ran for freshman class president and what I learned from it. 

The day my university’s Student Government Association (SGA) sent emails to the freshman class for declarations to run for class president or one of four senator positions, I excitedly rushed to open my email app and declare myself running for class president. 

I wasn’t initially expecting that I would be a student at my current university but kept in mind that what you do in college is more important than where you go. My dream university was Boston University, which I knew was filled with competitive, high-achieving students. Despite being admitted to BU, I chose Oglethorpe over my dream school because I wanted to make a smart financial decision. That decision encouraged me to participate in Oglethorpe’s community to get the most out of my college experience and hopefully be a positive factor in encouraging other students to go there in the future. 

I realize my prior involvement and achievements gave me a leg up. Working with my high school SGA, the smartest students’ characteristics and skills rubbed off onto me. Little did I know the influence they made on me would help me make a larger impact in college. 

My school’s student election consisted of campaigning for a certain number of days and then the election day itself, which in this case was the day before my 19th birthday. I hung posters showing pictures of me at campaign rallies, at the Georgia State Capitol, and action in pictures. I kept informing students to vote for experience; I said that actions speak louder than words. 

I do want to become a politician and motivational speaker. I did keep note that other students would view my work or digital footprints as imposing. Nonetheless, I was grateful to have a digital footprint at my age and be immersed with a platform connecting with verified influencers who supported my content. 

Flyer created by Ashleigh Ewald as a part of her Freshman Class President campaign at Oglethorpe University.

As I campaigned, I did my research on my opponents and, again, felt very grateful that I am and continue to try to reach a point where my actions can speak for themselves. Actions speaking louder than words is one of the most difficult factors to have when running for local or federal office. It is the ability to build trust through having a name, since voters will more likely vote for an individual who is more well known or has a platform. 

I campaigned on three main goals: to help students with tuition by developing scholarship opportunities; to increase student involvement through volunteer events, and to help make our school’s CORE Program more flexible. I had confidence that I was the most qualified candidate because I could get the work done; I know successful people and how to network. 

The way I showed students that I can network is having them view my Instagram and research me. I utilized social media to my advantage. Ever since I was a high schooler, social media has been a gateway for me to build my presence. This is what I believe swayed a lot of students to vote for me, because they could see my high-engaging content and the influencers supporting it. 

Running for class president taught me that being true to yourself about your “why” running for any election and truly caring about students from the beginning will prevail. 

Any office is not about trying to feel more confident about oneself, but to actually make a difference in the community and use the position to better peoples’ lives. I cannot express how sad it makes me feel when I see people run for school elections to boost their confidence, as if they believe holding a position will give them some worth. In reality, no position can give anyone true confidence and worth, because those attributes develop within. Confidence comes from experiences and accepting one’s flaws. People can see right through insecurity and arrogance. 

Running for freshman class president taught me how to be humble and be discrete about sharing my accomplishments. I set up an event with a friend to help students get to know me and for me to have more meaningful connections. Either way, if I won or lost, I would still work to make those changes I want for my university. 

The election came in a week, and the results were not released until late at night. I went to sleep during my regular hours and woke up in the middle of the night because my gut for some reason was telling me to check my phone. I saw my mail and I felt ecstatic, reading how I was officially elected freshman class president. 

I have been working diligently with administrations working in different departments and students to achieve my three campaign goals. The three main objectives of my campaign were to demonstrate why I am running and to acknowledge that their interests will always be my highest priority as I serve them in the SGA. Thank you to the Class of 2025 for giving me a chance to deliver and electing me. 

The following are four lessons I learned from campaigning locally in school and what I hope many students keep in mind when they want to do the same. 

The biggest lessons I learned was:

Actions speak louder than words 

When voters can view candidates’ prior involvement, network, and having a blueprint makes the process of figuring out the most qualified candidate is in fact the one who has the most experience and evidence of community service. 

Be true to yourself 

Don’t run for any position in the hopes it will give you confidence. Being fake to peoples’ faces then trashing them behind their backs, they will smell through “the bullshit.” People eventually know a true leader compared to an individual who is insecure about themselves and projects it onto others. These types of people tend to fail to realize confidence should come from within and not be relied on outside factors. 

Leadership is leading by example 

Becoming a leader is about knowing your ‘why’ in wanting to make a change and leading with a purpose. Leading by example is guiding people to do the right thing and inspiring them to follow in your footsteps so they can have an opportunity to lead as well. 

Kindness goes a long way

Being kind doesn’t mean being nice to others in wanting something in return. Being kind means being a kind person in general who actually cares for others. If you care about people and build meaningful connections from the beginning, people will remember that when you run for office; they will remember how you made them feel.  


About Ashleigh Ewald

/VOX ATL Staff Writer

Ashleigh Ewald is a freshman at Oglethorpe University studying economics and politics. Her career goals include running for office and enacting legislation to assist people se...

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