July 15th 2013
This past June, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Casey Clemmons, former Vice President of Student Government. When Casey and I last chatted, he was running for President of SGA. Not surprisingly, he won. Casey is one of the nicest guys around, has made many strides improving our school, and not to mention, looks great in a button up. Get to know your current SGA President as your next 22 Under 22:
Alex: So what position are you currently running for?
Casey: I am running for President of the student government association.
Alex: And you’re currently Vice President?
Casey: I am currently the Vice President.
Alex: How long have you been involved with Student Government?
Casey: Since my freshman year. I was elected Senator for first year students, and then I ran for executive vice president for academic affairs my Sophomore year, vice president my Junior year, and now I’m running for president.
Alex: Way to go out with a bang! What else are you involved in at DePaul? I’m sure SGA is very time consuming.
Casey: It is. I don’t do as much of other things as I use to because it is so time consuming. When I first came to DePaul I was involved in the Residence Hall Theme Community program, which was a lot of fun freshman year. I was also involved with DePaul Theater Union for a while because I did a lot with theater in high school. I wanted a little bit of that , but just didn’t have enough time for it. But, I have been a Student/Alumni ambassador since my Sophomore year.
Alex: Wow. What’s your major?
Casey: Political Science, with a double minor in Urban Geography and Environmental Studies.
Alex: That’s a lot. You are a smart guy. What have you done at DePaul while in SGA?
Casey: As Senator for first year students, I really worked a lot with Academic Advising for high school students trying to figure out what they wanted to go into. I felt that it was difficult for incoming freshman, so I got major advising implemented in orientation. I know it isn’t the most fun thing, but it is really important. That was my big thing freshman year. I’ve also been involved with the Environmental Concerns committee on SGA, trying to make DePaul as sustainable as possible. AS EVP of Academic Affairs, my big thing was tenure. There are certain faculty that don’t think a student voice should be involved in the tenure process, and obviously as students we are against that. Especially being a teaching institution. Obviously the best people to evaluate if teachers are good teachers, are the students. We also started pushing for public course evaluations last year, and it’s progressed a lot this year. This year, as Vice President, my project was Monetary Award Program. We stared last summer, developing a grass roots campaign and printed thousands of those post cards, and you would fill out your Illinois address, SGA would find out who your legislatures were, and then we went down for Springfield for a day to every single office of every single Illinois State Representative, and we would lobby on behalf of this grant. 1 in 5 DePaul students gets the grant, and it is constantly at risk of being cut. If it was cut, it would legitimately hurt the face of DePaul. If these kids were not able to come to DePaul because the grant was cut, it would drastically change our school.
Alex: That has to be really intimidating…going up against all of these people. How do you handle that?
Casey: I mean, MAP isn’t the most salient political issue going on in the state right now, especially with gay marriage, gun control, and penchant issues all lining up. Frankly, there are some legislatures that I don’t even think know what it is because they don’t have universities in their district. A lot of us had the opportunity to approach a legislature when we went to Springfield, and they were very receptive. I think they really appreciated that students went down and lobbied, on behalf of this instead of some guy in a suit. It isn’t very controversial, so there thankfully isn’t any hostility.
Alex: What influenced you to want to get involved with Student Government? Do you want to go into politics as a career?
Casey: I want to go into the governmental politcal world in some form. I’m not sure. I guess I was really involved in Student Council in High School, so I just took the next steps from there once I got to college. I really enjoy having conversations with people and discussing all different topics, and I really do believe that leaders who are passionate truly help the country.
Casey: Anyway, to answer your question about wanting to go into Politics, I do. I’ve already had the opportunity to intern at a Chicago Alderman’s office for a summer, I’ve also interned at the Mayor’s office.
Alex: What was that experience like?
Casey: It was great. For about a year I was with the Chief of Staff, and I got the chance to help out a lot and get real world experience. I really got to see what goes into being in government, what’s happening on the inside, and how much hard work it is.
Alex: So how do you balance all of this with school and friends?
Casey: Well, I certainly get more sleep then Matthew, but there’s a certain point where I tell myself that I need to relax and I’ll go sit outside or go for a bike ride. I think little things like that help bring me back to Earth, and realize that finishing whatever I’m working on is not going to drastically change the outcome of my life. Time management has to be utilized.
Alex: That is one thing that everyone says in every interview…that time management is key. What do you love about DePaul? What’s your favorite thing?
Casey: When I was applying to schools, I only applied to schools in Chicago and Milwaukee. At the end of the day, I was between Marquette and DePaul. It was really the city of Chicago that was the deciding factor for me. One of my favorite things about DePaul is that it is in the city of Chicago, and every opportunity that I’ve had, whether it be the internships or simply the friends I’ve made, I wouldn’t be able to do without being in the city.
Alex: Do you think you’ll stay in the city after college?
Casey: Yes. I don’t think I could move back to a suburb. I definitely want to stay here. Depending on the political atmosphere when I graduate, who knows where I’ll actually end up. Going back to DePaul more specifically, I love the people. This is going to sound so cliche, but the Vincentian Mission…it really provokes thought and asks what needs to be done int he world? And I think it’s really great to go to an institution that embodies that instead of just “oh you get your degree and you graduate.” We also have people from all different races, backgrounds…from everywhere and all different interests. That coming together is a cool thing and a real world atmosphere.
Alex: We definitely wouldn’t get this experience anywhere else. What would your advice be to someone who wants to get into politics or even just an internship?
Casey: I guess this is broad, but if you’re big thing is to get a job, go for internships. Do as many as you can. Even if you have a degree, you won’t get a job with no other experience. Anyone in any major can take advantage of internships. For anyone that wants to go into politics…it is so broad and so vague that I think it’s important to have multiple internships. It helped me discover what I do not want to do, and what’s right for me versus what’s not right for me. You have to put yourself out there. I had an internship that led into a job on the Obama campaign, which made me realize that I love working on campaigns. Campaigning is very broad, but I was lucky enough to be stationed in the Obama headquarters in Chicago. It was a ton of fun. When I graduate, I think I want to jump on a campaign like that again. I love the fast paced energy.
Alex: What did you help with on the Obama campaign?
Casey: When I got hired on, I technically worked for the DNC, which is the Democratic National Committee. In both opportunities I worked with the paid media department, so TV and radio commercials, etc. What I did in both of those roles in very different ways was track ads that were put out there, and see who was doing what and how much money they were spending. I watched, like, 800 ads a day.
Alex: So where can we find you hanging out on campus?
Casey: The student center. The SGA office. I’ve been trying to limit my time in there because I’ve realized I am there way too much, and as a student representative I should be out and about. When it’s warm out, you can find me sitting in the quad. I love the sun.
Photo credit: Nicole Cash