The Daily Gamecock

Student Body Vice President Courtney Tkacs wants to 'give just about anything' to USC

Student Body Vice President Courtney Tkacs grew up in a military family. She was always moving from place to place while her dad served around the world. 

He is her best friend and was her biggest influence growing up. 

"He's been my biggest cheerleader growing up," she said. "He has been the one where, (during) times where I thought I wasn't doing my best, he was always in my corner telling me I was and constantly reminding me that I am enough."

She said she looks up to her dad, admiring his leadership and commitment to helping others

“He wants for nothing and gives for everything," Tkacs said. "And I constantly think about that.” 

When she was in high school, she lived in Alaska while he was on tour in Iraq. One of her favorite memories with her role model and best friend was when he returned after eight months

“I was at a track meet with a broken ankle, and he came around the corner and surprised me,” Tkacs said. “There’s a video of me jumping over to him on one foot and hugging him, and we’re both crying.” 

After his return, the two of them listened to the "Hamilton" soundtrack on a roughly 70-hour car trip from Alaska to Lexington, South Carolina, which Tkacs would eventually be able to call her longest home .

After moving all over the country with her family growing up, Tkacs decided to stay in the Columbia area when it came time to decide on a college

“I decided to go here, and it has been one of the most rewarding experiences that I've ever had,” Tkacs said. “I love the school more than anything. And I think I will give just about anything for the students and just the school in general. And I'm hoping to do that this coming term.” 


In Lexington, she went to River Bluff High School, where a fellow student a grade above her would eventually become her running mate in USC’s 2024 Student Government executive election. 

“When I came to college, I was at my first (Freshman Council) mixer, where we got to meet all the people that would be mentors, and he walked in, and we both kind of did a double take; we were like, ‘Oh, I didn't know you were in Student Government,’” Tkacs said.

Student Body President Patton Byars and Tkacs did not get to know each other well in high school, but being in Student Government brought them closer. They started discussing running together when they were both working on past executives' staffs. 

“It was a lot of trust-building,” Tkacs said. “I already had that personal relationship with him of being a friend and of course him with me as well, and we just wanted to make sure that each other had the best interest of (the) student body in mind.” 

Byars and Tkacs said they realized that they value each others' work ethic and leadership style, so campaigning together made sense. 

“She's someone I trust, and she's someone who's loyal. Loyalty is very big for me, and I've just (grown) up like that, and so she fit everything in that, and she's been great to work with,” Byars said

Tkacs said she hopes to reflect the idea of “servant leadership” in her role

“You have to set yourself aside and do things just for the betterment of the students,” Tkacs said. “And it's such a rewarding experience to kind of see your real-life goals and work that you put in come to life.” 

Her biggest goal in her new role is to better communicate student government initiatives to students. This was one of the ideas that inspired her to run. She recalled a football game where many students didn't know the about resources available to them that were provided by Student Government. 

"There was a moment at a football game where I was standing in line and someone's phone died," she said. "I'm like, 'just go use the portable chargers, Student Government put in portable chargers in there,' (and she's) like 'oh, I had no idea.'"

The vice president's role focuses on outreach and marketing to students. Those who hold this position also organize programs and initiatives for students.

Since her inauguration, she has already started programming, her first being Swipe Out Hunger only two weeks inThis was a program she carried over from previous termsthat allows students to donate meal swipes to students dealing with food insecurity. She hopes to expand the established program by making it longer, combining it with SEC Food Fight.

“It was a very quick turnaround. But I've already worked on expanding that — it's a two-week event this year,” Tkacs said

Tkacs’ Deputy Chief of Staff, Abella Youngblood, said Tkacs is an inspiring leader because she is willing to step in and help everyone she works with whenever needed. Youngblood and Tkacs have formed a strong friendship outside of student government. 

“You obviously can tell that she cares,” Youngblood said. “But she cares on a more personal level — she takes that home with her at night.” 


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