Sunday, March 7, 2021
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Passing on the Light with Michael Southard

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michael_sou“I am overly involved on campus,” Michael Southard, senior political science and communication double major, said.
“I have gone from one leadership opportunity to the next, kind of snowballing from one activity to the next because I’m so interested in all the people on campus.”
And it’s no overstatement. He’s the faculty student coordinator on Student Senate, vice president for the Class of ’16, risk manager at Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, president of College Republicans, chairman of the Small School Advisory Committee at the Ohio College Republican Federation, founder of the Pre-Law Association, a Student Center manager and a tour guide.
But it hadn’t always been this way for Southard.
“I came in being a fairly introverted person, not having too many friends in high school,” he said. “I did nothing my freshman year. I wasn’t involved in a single club.”
So what happened?
“A lot of it comes from my development here at Wittenberg,” Southard said. “My pivotal moment was when I accepted my bid into Beta Theta Pi.”
“It was the ability to have some kind of a support group, people who I knew were kind of there for me, people I knew I could count on who wouldn’t judge me if I were to go out, try to get involved and fail,” he said.
Not only was the fraternity the first organization to snag Southard, but it was also where Southard took on his first leadership position as vice president of Scholarship on the Interfraternity Council.
“From there, I started meeting people who were involved in all these other things,” Southard said.
“My freshman year . . . work was very important to me. It took up most of my weekends, and I didn’t have much time for people here on campus. Now, what’s important is not working, and [instead] spending time with people that I’m close to.”
“I’m happiest when I’m with other people and other people are happy as well,” Southard said.
But what makes him sad?
“Being alone, actually,” Southard said. “At the end of the night, when I go home and I’m alone, it’s that downtime. I used to cherish it, but now it seems like I’m not being productive.”
Contrast this with freshman Southard who, because he hadn’t found his place, took solace in solitude.
Despite the fact that he is months away from the “real world,” he has already thought about what the world needs.
“The world needs more people like we have at Wittenberg; people are very friendly here.
“But then, the world just doesn’t reflect that. You have a lot of people who are so stuck on their own opinions and so stuck in their way of thinking,” he said.
“I also feel like if people got involved in the real world the way they do on campus, you’d see more candidates, more people getting involved in the campaign process, and so you would get that diversity of views which just isn’t there right now.”
And one step the world could take to become a better community?
“More communication,” he said. “If we were less focused on being politically correct, on making everyone happy and just said what needs to be said, it could kind of open the doors for that diversity and community.”
And what does this senior need from the world?
“The opportunity,” Southard said. “At this point, I just need to step on the seal. I feel like I’m ready.
“Everything I’ve done through Wittenberg and through my entire life has led me to where I am now. It’s all kind of culminating in this.”

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