Vidalian Bryson Henriott Wins UGA Student Government Presidency
A 2019 Vidalia Heritage Academy Graduate is making a name for himself at the University of Georgia by becoming the University’s Student Government Association (SGA) President.
Bryson Henriott, son of Van and Stephanie Henriott, began attending UGA in Fall 2019 after graduating as an honor student from Vidalia Heritage Academy. Throughout high school, Henriott discovered his passion for government relations through his participation in Harvard Model Congress, and his experience working as an intern at the Tillery Law Firm.
“Thanks to VHA for an education and foundation that equipped me for UGA, and thanks to [Senator] Blake Tillery for the opportunity to work with him in high school and for all of his continued mentorship during my time at UGA,” Henriott emphasized regarding his success.
“It still feels surreal,” he remarked when asked how it feels to be named Student Body continued from page
President. “It has been a lot of time and effort that has accumulated into this moment, but at times, it still does not feel real. I am excited to start and have the opportunity to oversee 40,000 students as the student body president here at UGA.”
He continued, “My schedule has definitely changed and now includes less free time, and many more meetings with administrators and student organizations, but it is incredible to be in a position that can enable so much change.”
According to Henriott, it is his small-town upbringing that has inspired him to branch out into different leadership opportunities while at UGA. “Coming into UGA from a smaller town, like Vidalia, can be a difficult transition, and it can be hard to find community,” he explained. “However, I found community by trying to become involved in everything UGA offered to its students, and by meeting as many people as possible. I think through this, I learned so much and was pushed outside of my comfort zone with leadership, which paved the path to where I am today.”
He added, “Running for SGA president is not something I would have ever imagined when I first came here, but through my time here, I decided to pursue it to give back to a university that has given me so much,” he added.
Some of those methods of giving back throughout Henriott’s past roles in the Student Government Association include: the creation of customizable meal plans at the dining halls and a student discount for Lyft ride share program. “SGA has impacted me by introducing me to lifelong friends, but also by teaching me how to effectively make change,” he noted. “These developments showed me that even though I am a student, I am still able to help cultivate positive change on campus. It has allowed me to learn how to work with different constituent groups and find ways to produce tangible change that benefits all students.”
He emphasized, “It is so rare to be so young in a position with so much responsibility, and I definitely do not always have the best ideas or do everything right in the role, but it is a learning process. It has been so impactful, and has already made me grow as a person and a leader.”
The Campaign Process
Henriott shared that the campaign process for SGA at UGA is very similar to actual political campaigns in society. “I just started by listening to people,” he said. “I spent countless amounts of time just getting lunch or coffee with different students on what worked and didn’t work in the University.”
Also in this time period, Henriott met Oba Samaye and Kate Lindgren, two student leaders who shared a similar passion as Henriott: serving others. The trio decided to run together, with Samaye seeking office as Vice President and Lindgren seeking office as treasurer. The group used Uplift as their ticket name to signify the desire the individuals had to uplift all of the resources and student organizations by spreading more awareness about them, and the desire to best support the students. “The campaigning period was exhausting to say the least, with tabling every day on campus, debates, creating an over 500-person staff, taking pictures and making videos, and running the social media accounts” Henriott commented. “Some of my favorite moments included many nights with around 10 of us sitting in my living room until 1-2 a.m. working on our platform and creating our campaign.”
He continued, “However, my favorite moment was on the day of announcements when everyone gathered at Tate, the main part of campus, as they announced the results for the election. Standing there with everyone from the campaign as the election results were announced and getting to celebrate that moment with everyone is something I will never forget.”
Henriott also stressed his thanks to his family for all the cheerleading they did for his campaign back in Vidalia. “Thank you to my family for all of their continued support. They have been the ones who have been there for all of my successes, but also all of my failures, and have supported me in all of my endeavors.”
Henriott is in his third year at UGA, as he double majors in Political Science and Public Relations with certificates in Applied Politics, Public Affairs Communications, and Personal and Organizational Leadership. He will graduate in May 2023. This summer, he will be interning with Home Depot in Washington D.C., during which he will be working with government relations. He hopes this experience, along with his experience as SGA President, will lead him to a job in government relations in the future.