The results are in: Garrett Smith, a junior political science major from Starkville, Mississippi, is Mississippi State University's newest Student Association president-elect.
While he is now one of the most prominent leaders on campus, Garrett did not see himself as a potential leader until after he entered high school. He recalls his junior year of high school when attending Mississippi Boys State and being elected mayor and eventually chosen as a senator to represent Mississippi Boys Nation. This aided in his growing passion for leadership and community service.
"They were some of the smartest leaders I had been around in my entire life. I still keep up with them. Some are (currently) serving as student body presidents at their universities and other amazing things across the nation," Smith said.
His senior year, Smith's soccer coach was JoJo Dodd, who served as MSU's SA president in 2015. Dodd recognized Smith's leadership potential early on, and Smith viewed Dodd as a role model and mentor in his journey to the presidency.
Smith has been involved in many organizations on MSU's campus such as Provost Scholars, Beta Upsilon Chi, sports writing for The Reflector and serving in Student Association.
"Early on, I realized that Student Association was something I wanted to focus on. I served in the Senate for two years ... And when I ran for vice president last year, I realized that it was a full-time job, so I did not want to overextend myself. It's the same with being president," Smith said.
His time serving as vice president made him realize how capable SA is of creating change on campus and how much change has already occurred.
"Mississippi State is evolving just like any other education institution in the nation," Smith said. "I want to be a part of that evolution, and I want to fight for student voices when it comes to those changes."
As vice president, his primary responsibility was running and supporting the Senate. From meetings to events to making tough decisions, Smith served and worked with diligence.
Tyler Packer, the exiting SA president, spoke highly of Garrett and his abilities to lead.
"We should be confident in Garrett because he has confidence in us. He is about fighting for students and making their voices known," Packer said.
Smith believes he has a good grasp on the role of SA president due to his experience serving as VP and his drive to be a voice for every single student.
"Most of my platform has been focused on better communication between the student body and SA ... That way, I am speaking on behalf of the students and not just myself," Smith said.
He also intends to create a new cabinet committee with the specific goal of partnering with student organizations. This committee will support smaller organizations to help them find funding, plan events, market themselves and collaborate with them.
"I think SA has struggled in the past with exclusively advocating for our larger organizations," Smith said. "While those organizations are incredibly important, they don't represent our entire student body. There's a whole lot of students out there, and it is our responsibility to find, reach and advocate for them."
He says his best friends have been his main support system throughout his campaign.
"The same guys I watched that Super Bowl with and play ping-pong with every week are the guys that helped hand out my stickers on the Drill Field," Smith said. "My campaign team was made up of people who believed in me."
He looks forward to serving alongside Kennedy Guest, Reagan Clark and Chanu Cherukuri in their positions as vice president, secretary and treasurer, respectively.
"I have worked with and known all three of them throughout my entire time here. I know they are a very capable group," Smith said.
The feeling is mutual, as SA Secretary-elect Reagan Clark, a junior political science major, is eager to work alongside Garrett under his leadership.
"I'm excited to work with Garrett because he has really great ideas to better the student body, and I can't wait to get them accomplished," Clark said.