After overcoming personal obstacles, Casey Hamlin, a student body presidential candidate, said he hopes to provide more opportunities to students struggling in life.
Opportunity is the main focus of the campaign, he said. Hamlin also said he would take a pay cut to fund merit and need-based scholarships as well as child care grants for students who fall on hard times. Additionally, he said he hopes to continue improving safety on campus by focusing on functionality of the blue lights and provide a safe and judgment-free tailgating zone to students over drinking so they can rest and rehydrate.
Anthony Abate is a vice presidential candidate running on Hamlin's ticket. A Virginia native who grew up in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Abate said he has learned a lot of leadership skills through his father, who runs his own cardiologist practice and has moved into the pharmaceutical industry.
Abate said Hamlin was the first person he met on campus while he was moving into his residence hall as a freshman. Abate now says the two are like brothers, and they are not afraid to call each other out when they disagree which they hope will help them lead the USC students if they are elected.
“I will be the first person to tell him that and he will do the same thing to me," Abate said. "Which makes us work really well together."
The focus on creating opportunity for those who are struggling began at home for the presidential candidate.
When Hamlin was seven years old, his father passed away after fighting lung cancer. Hamlin said his father would commute four hours to work every day, and his perseverance while he was battling cancer has continued to inspire him.
"That willingness to keep fighting and to keep going no matter what the odds were just because he knew how important it was, that has stuck with me for my entire life,” said Hamlin, a third-year political science student.
His father's death put an emotional strain on the entire family, Hamlin said, but he also finds inspiration in his mother, who took on the responsibility of raising two twin boys by herself.
“Seeing her keep herself together through everything and no matter what was going on in her personal life," Hamlin said. "She never let it affect how she was raising us.”
Hamlin thinks being the longest-serving senator in the current Student Senate and his work in Student Government affords him the credibility to serve the student body.
“I feel like just through that experience, along with just the practical experience of being in student government for so long, it's really set me up with the perspectives that I need to be able to effectively serve the student body," Hamlin said.
As an openly gay candidate, he understands the feeling of being different, Hamlin said. He believes USC has given him a place to feel accepted, and his identity allows him to authentically reach out to LGBTQ+ students.
“That just brings a whole new coast of perspectives and a whole new group of people to the table," Hamlin said, "but it’s very much a question of, 'do they have anyone really that knows what that experience is like?”
Jesse Survette, a second-year mass communications student, first met Hamlin when the two lived close to each other their first year. Although they have since moved to new places, their friendship has lasted. Survette said the two always have a good time when together.
Matthew Wiegel, Hamlin's campaign manager, also met Casey around the same time and agreed that when he is around Hamlin he tries to soak in everything discussed. Wiegel admires Hamlin's character and his relentless efforts to complete what he thinks is right to do.
“He’s someone that if you give him something to do or if he comes up with an idea, he’s going to go 110 percent," Wiegel said. "He’s not going to back down or be wishy-washy with it. He starts something, he finishes it.”