Lewis was recently elected as the 94th student body president of Texas Tech.
When Friday classes let out for spring break, most students can't wait to get off campus and hit the road to their vacation destination. This year, Sean Lewis was not one of these students.
For Lewis, March 9 was more than the day that stood between him and a week of relaxation. It was the day anxiously waited by the phone to find out if he had been elected as the 94th student body president of Texas Tech University.
“My heart was racing,” Lewis, a junior history major and political science minor from Virginia Beach, Virginia, said. “I just did everything I could not to focus on it.”
Lewis, who will now spend his senior year as president of the Texas Tech Student Government Association (SGA), is no stranger to the world of student government. He served as his high school's senior class president before coming to Texas Tech and serving on the Freshman Leadership Association, then as director of outreach and finally as chief of staff.
Lewis, and the rest of the incoming SGA-elects, take office today (May 1).
What drew you to Texas Tech?
“I was born in Detroit, Michigan, and I lived there until 2007. My dad was a fireman and got injured. There was not a lot to do outside of working in the fire department during the recession. So, we moved to Texas for three years, where the state wasn't hit as hard by the recession. Then my dad joined the Navy, and we moved to Virginia, where I attended the Legal Studies Academy at First Colonial High School. It was all a very close-knit community, even though it was a high school of 4,000 students. I wanted that replicated when I went to college.
“My sister was a freshman at Texas Tech when I was a senior in high school. She came out to Texas Tech and loved it. When we moved her in, the people were so nice and gracious. Talking to her, I realized the professors, staff, faculty and administrators all have a particular interest in you as a student. I'm Sean Lewis. I'm not a number, and that's something I didn't see at other universities this size.”
How did you get involved in student government?
“At orientation, I sought out the student government table. I talked to then-President Holton Westbrook about how I could get involved as a freshman, and he told me about the freshman programs. I applied to the Freshman Leadership Association, was accepted and interned for then-external vice president Caleb Fisher.”
Why did you run with Tech United?
“Jude Al-hmoud, Amber Acklie, John Getz and I ran on the name Tech United because we want to continue to bring this campus together. We want to tell the student body that, no matter our differences, or what clubs we are in or what our last names may be, we are first and foremost Red Raiders. That is the common denominator.”
What are some goals you have for your presidency?
“My team and I would like focus on student success and what that looks like in the classroom, for clubs and organizations, and for the mental health of our students.
“In the classroom, we are looking at diversifying our course catalogue, listening to students and seeing if there are different ways we can improve upon the classroom experience. A part of that is the issue of mental health. Students are stressed out. They are balancing school, work, friends, family, significant others and finances. We want to see what ways we can provide more services and help students feel more comfortable and confident in the classroom.
“For clubs and organizations, we want to get students involved. I've seen how getting involved makes me feel a part of Texas Tech, and that I am helping contribute to a better Texas Tech for myself, my friends and the people and students who will come in the following years.”
How would you describe your leadership style?
“I would say that I'm a listener and proactive. When I'm leading a meeting, I like to listen to what the people around the table have to say first. I'm rarely the first to inject my opinion, because, quite frankly, I am confident in the people I have around the table.
“I like to be proactive in seeking out problems to solve before they become an issue. I like trying to eliminate some of those barriers before people get really agitated about it so we can focus on what we do best: having an inclusive environment for students, and being a model for southern hospitality at Texas Tech.”
As a member of the black student body, how do you hope your appointment as SGA president will affect other students at Texas Tech?
“I think it will help with some of the stereotypes Texas Tech gets pulled into because of our location. Texas Tech is really interested in someone who can do the job. It's more about having a plan, executing the plan, how you can help the university and how you can help the students.
“I think that message will be conveyed to students who look like me, who previously didn't think it was possible. I hope I represent that.”