Patrick Ellis, a third-year political science student, is currently serving as the first speaker of the Student Senate, but now he's shooting for student body president.
Ellis said his passion for leadership goes back to elementary school.
“The first real remembrance I ever have of any leadership position came in third grade when my teacher asked me if I wanted to be on the lunch advisory committee,” Ellis said. "My response, and I’ve never lived this down, was ‘I would be honored.’”
Ellis credits his hometown for his inspiration for leadership.
“It’s a really closely knit community. They have been really supportive of me," Ellis said. "It’s about proving not just that I can do this, but people who went to Wade Hampton high school in Varnville, South Carolina, can do great things and go be student body president and go be leaders in their fields.”
Ellis continued his leadership journey from grade school throughout his college experience. As a first-year student at USC, he spent his time trying to get as involved as he could. He served on the Residence Hall Association as president of the honors residence hall. He was also elected as a senator in Student Government towards the end of his first year, despite failing to make the Freshman Council for class of 2020.
“When I came to Carolina, it was just a natural fit," Ellis said. "I also served in the RHS Senate. That was a great experience for me that connected me with a lot of student leaders and really allowed for me to advocate for students at the highest level for the on-campus issues and struggles that they face.” Ellis said.
Ellis’ position as a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences made him fall in love with Student Government as an organization. Ellis has aimed to use his executive roles to make changes within his community. He also stands behind the fact that lessons from the past can positively impact the future.
“You don’t need a position to be a leader. It’s really a mindset and an attitude, a way to contribute, whether it’s by leading the charge, or just being active and participating in everything and engaged in whatever you do,” Ellis said.
Soon after being elected as senator, Ellis began to serve on the Judiciary Committee in the fall semester of his second year at USC. He went on to lead the reconstruction of Student Government to account for the Speaker of the Senate position.
“I felt it a natural fit and was really excited for the opportunity to be able to represent the entire student body rather than just students in my college," Ellis said. "As speaker, I’ve endeavored every day since and will continue to do so,”
Ellis is running on the first four-person ticket in Student Government elections at USC. The "Forward" ticket is made up of Kamryn Phelgar, vice presidential candidate, Adger Drummond, treasurer candidate, and Davis Latham, a speaker of the senate candidate.
“Forward was kind of my brainchild, it was a pretty natural fit for me," Ellis said. "Once I decided I wanted to run for Student Body President, I decided I was going to run forward because I think that my experience as an executive officer right now, I see how important and vital it is that all four of those executive officers to have a congruous agenda.”
Although Ellis is running for a different position from the one he holds, the sense of familiarity he has with his campaign members makes the transition easier.
Latham, a second-year political science and economics student, has been friends with Ellis since his first year of college. He said he got close to Ellis after he was assigned to be Ellis' Student Government mentee.
Latham served as Ellis’ campaign manager while running for the speaker of the senate position in last year’s election. After Ellis' win, Latham transitioned to serving as Ellis’ chief of staff.
“Working together as his chief of staff this year has really allowed me to see what he’s been able to accomplish and then he asked if I’d be willing to run for Speaker to help continue the legacy that he has started there,” Latham said.
The ability Ellis and Latham have to stay close friends while working with one another on a daily basis in a professional environment has strengthened their relationship all the more. Latham believes that his experience working with Ellis makes him the most obvious choice to fill the speaker of the senate role after Ellis finishes his term.
One quality of Ellis’ that Latham respects in particular is his ability to listen to others.
“Patrick is a listener. I think that’s different than a lot of the other candidates where he really cares and is considerate about what everyone at the table is saying,” Latham said.
Patrick Greene, second-year biochemistry and molecular biology student serves as the campaign manager for both Latham and Ellis. Greene met Ellis through being friends with Latham. They got to know each other better when Greene through the work Greene currently does as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee within the Student Senate.
“The passion and dedication that he has for the students and wanting to better this university, wanting to influence policy, do these sorts of things that other candidates don’t necessarily have the experience or the know how, he is best equipped to fulfill the job of the president,” Greene said.
Ellis believes teamwork is a vital part in ensuring that any executive board fulfills their agenda to the best of their ability, he said.
“If you have points of contention, if you aren’t like-minded if you argue the whole time nothing will get done," Ellis said. "The people who lose are the students so for us I found people who represent all different areas of the campus who bring this campus together in a way that I don’t think any other ticket can.”
In short, he said he's excited to get started.
"This is a dream of mine, it has been for a very long time," Ellis said. "This is in my blood. Carolina has been so good to my family and I hope to be good to it.”