Jonathan Pelham, a sophomore on the UGA Track & Cross Country team, tells about his experiences with the Student Government Association.
My name is Jonathan Pelham, and I am a sophomore member of the Men’s Track and Cross-Country teams studying Political Science and International Affairs. Often times, that itself consumes much of my time. As a student-athlete, running and school tend to dominate my daily life. However, I am fortunate enough to be involved in some organizations outside of athletics; one of those is the Student Government Association (SGA).
I joined SGA when I arrived on campus as a freshman because its freshmen programs do phenomenal work to help involve and adapt new students to their life at UGA. I was a member of Freshmen-Connect last year, and thoroughly enjoyed my time in that. Our group learned valuable leadership skills, and we were exposed to many different student-led organizations and service projects throughout the year. Connect also introduced me to a new group of friends I would have never otherwise met. While making the transition to college life Connect gave me different ways to experience Athens and UGA outside of my life on the team. I will always value the challenges Connect presented me with as a freshman and how it has affected the path I am carving for myself at UGA.
My initial experience in Freshman-Connect led me to run for an SGA Senate seat in the second-semester of my freshman year. Fortunately, I was elected and have been serving as an AT-LARGE senator this school year. Serving in the senate has been a challenging, yet rewarding experience. Our group has passed numerous pieces of legislation in hopes of helping and aiding our fellow students. I have successfully written legislation and cooperated with university services to place trashcans and recycling bins in various places across campus, such as the Coliseum bus stop. I am also working with some of my peers to develop a better relationship between parking services and students to prioritize student parking and reevaluate the current ticketing system. Currently, I am working towards securing my spot in SGA for next year, and I hope to continue working in SGA until I graduate.
Often times, there is a stigma that student-athletes cannot participate in clubs, organizations, or community activities outside of their team. Although as student-athletes we may not have the time and energy to commit to as many causes as regular students, I know from my experiences and those of my peers that we can certainly participate in those that are the most important to us. Obviously, with that being said time management and prioritizing your schedule are essential if you feel called to participate in something outside of athletics. However, it is an achievable task, and I really believe that it has had a profound impact on my time at UGA thus far.