By Emily Reed
As the president of the University’s Student Government Association this year, Thomas Dillard has spent plenty of his time making sure the SGA is giving students at Montevallo the best college experience they can have under the unusual circumstances related to COVID-19.
“In planning events, we focus on first keeping students safe, and to do this we have moved our events to an online format,” Dillard said. “Another way SGA is keeping things running smoothly is by being flexible with everything going on. When we have unexpected meetings, last-second event changes or internet issues, SGA is flexible with any situation that comes our way. I think this idea of flexibility is what keeps each member on their toes and willing to bring new ideas to the table.”
Meeting the challenge
While Dillard admits the year has been different, he said he has been excited to work closely with the administration, faculty and staff on behalf of the students.
Dillard said when the spring semester ended, it became more apparent that a “new normal” would set in.
Dillard was asked to be a part of the COVID-19 Reopening Task Force, which was led by Dr. Tammi Dahle.
Dillard said members of the UM administration, faculty, staff and students were a part of the meetings, which involved discussions to review and present a recommendation at the August Board of Trustees meeting.
Jenny Bell, the director of Student Life, said Dillard rose to the occasion and represented the student body with class and professionalism this year.
“Thomas has done a great job keeping a positive attitude and setting a good example for his classmates during a time when it would have been easy to be discouraged or feel defeated,” Bell said. “I am extremely proud of his leadership this year.”
Finding a new normal
Interacting virtually is something many students have had to become accustomed to, which Dillard admits can be hard when you enjoy interacting with people.
“Not being around others has been the hardest hurdle for me,” he said. “What most people do not know about me is that I am not a very tech-savvy person. I prefer to talk face-to-face rather than text or email. So, anyone can imagine how different life is when we had to go all-virtual.”
Dillard, a junior, is a business management major in the Stephen’s College of Business.
One of the reasons he chose to attend Montevallo was because of the sense of community.
“I came to Montevallo with education in mind, but it has offered me so much more,” he said. “I am truly grateful for everyone at the University, and they have become my favorite part of Montevallo.”
Dillard said despite the many changes presented to everyone this year, he is grateful for the way everyone has worked to push through all of it together.
“This was not how I planned for this year to go, but I am grateful for the opportunity that my fellow students have elected me for the job,” Dillard said. “The SGA is working to make Montevallo the best it can be in a time of uncertainty. Through everyone working together, we have made this year successful so far, and I am excited to see what the coming months will hold.”