Originally, Jake Manning came to Mississippi State University to avoid his high school graduating class from Jackson Academy, where the University of Mississippi is teasingly called “the 13th-grade.” It did not hurt that his older brother already attended MSU and was involved in Sigma Chi, which Manning also joined.
Manning stressed he had no plans for joining the Student Association, much less becoming its president, when he arrived on Starkville’s campus as a freshman. In high school, Manning was not involved in student government, but he did play football and was a member of the chess team.
Additionally, he and a friend started a Harry Potter club, where they would watch the popular films and play Quidditch, a sport originating from the novels. Manning is an avid fantasy novel reader, and when made to pick a favorite, Manning names "The Lightbringer Series" by Brent Weeks as exceptional, though he still has a special love for Harry Potter.
“I read the first one in a day; I read all of them in a week. I was hooked, and I’m a bad binger on anything,” Manning said. “I’m a big series guy when it comes to books.”
In the same way his brother attracted him to MSU, Manning’s brother was also somewhat involved in his entrance into the SA. Every Thursday night, Manning’s brother would host cookouts, and while attending one of these, Molly McAdams, a former student and SA senator at MSU, made Manning fill out the forms of intent to run for SA Senate, knowing he would love the position.
The rest is SA history. Manning would go on to be appointed the Community and Governmental Relations Committee Chairman and the President Pro Tempore, which chairs the Rules and Legislation Committee, and he would become the SA Vice President, creating the expansive and illustrious resume which would carry him to his current station as SA President-Elect.
Current SA President Mayah Emerson described Manning’s personality as a big factor in his leadership success.
“Jake (Manning) isn’t afraid to play devil’s advocate. He’s very analytical,” Emerson said. “He looks at all sides of the situation, and I think that’s always a good thing in leadership.”
Furthermore, it is Manning’s outgoing personality that allows him to connect to others and enjoy his work.
“He cares a whole lot about the student body, but he’s also not afraid to have a good time,” Emerson said. “Working with him over the past year has been lively to say the least.”
David Cuevas, one of Manning’s close friends and current roommate, also spoke of Manning’s work ethic as one of his defining characteristics.
“Every day Jake (Manning) comes home late at night and he is exhausted from the day because it has been another long day,” Cuevas said. “This happens every single night, yet he is still up the next day doing it all over again.”
Cuevas also stressed Manning’s willingness to listen and help those who confide in him, which Cuevas says is his best quality.
“No matter the issue or topic, I always feel comfortable having a conversation with Jake about it,” said Cuevas.
Looking to the future, Manning wants to remember the diversity found on MSU’s campus and work toward the betterment of the college experience for all involved.
Manning recalled the biggest awakening for him was sitting in on Academic Insight panel, which allows parents to ask questions of various administrative figures on campus, and hearing the parents of first-generation college students have no frame of reference on how best to help their child.
“I was like, ‘Wow, I really need to think about all of the different people coming here.’ Our transfer numbers are just about equaling our freshman class, at this point,” Manning said. “Our freshmen are more spread across the board than they have ever been.”
Beyond this goal, Manning said he is excited to begin working for the student body and working with his new cabinet. Manning said his SA career has focused on quality over quantity, and he takes pride in the comparatively small but meaningful amount of legislation passed during his term as VP. As Manning said, four or five major changes the student body can actually perceive on campus is preferable to hundreds that have no effect. Continuing on theme, Manning said he wants to get started on making those changes as soon as possible.
“I’ve, nonstop, been thinking about how we can hit the ground running, and if I really do want to make substantial changes. I think I have to be at 100 percent on day one if I’m actually going to achieve a cultural change for the SA,” Manning said. “That’s exactly what I want to do. I want to revolutionize the place into a much more serious institution, and I’m going to be very open about that from the very beginning.”