​We Find Community

Aidan Wells
University Union Student Programming Board

“Events for students, by students.” How could I have possibly known how important these five words would end up becoming when, three years ago, I didn’t even want to be a student? First semester of my first year, I was living without my parents for the first time, and I’d just been dropped into a sea of 36,000 unfamiliar faces. So it goes without saying that these weren’t the happiest of times. Suddenly, when it seemed like all hope was lost and I just wasn’t meant to be a Dawg, I found University Union. On a whim, I convinced my friend to come with me to a general body meeting because I thought, “maybe I’ll meet some people!” I’m a biology and Spanish major, and I’ve only ever planned one successful birthday party in my entire life, so you’d be right to assume that event planning had never been on my radar. Something about the energy and passion you feel at University Union meetings and events, however, made me want to stick around. It is through Union that I really found my place here at UGA. Three years later, there’s no such thing as an unfamiliar face, as I can’t even walk through Tate Student Center without saying hello to what seems like half of the entire faculty, staff, and student body. (Ok, I might be exaggerating, but you get the point.)  

I think that what I personally loved about Union, is the fact that, no matter your major, your year, or your interests, there is something for everyone. I found myself joining to talk about movies, and by the end of the year, I was designing posters for events thousands of students would attend. Union was the first time I did real graphic design work—a hobby I’d been dabbling in since high school. Eventually, this paved the way for me to serve two years as the Advertising Chair of MEDLIFE, a service student organization on campus. I also accepted a three-month graphic design, social media, and photography internship in Lima, Peru! Now, I’m serving a double-presidency for University Union and MEDLIFE, I’ve travelled more in three years than ever before, and I’m finally happy with where I am. Union was the catalyst for seemingly all of the great experiences I’ve had in college, and I haven’t even graduated yet!

After serving as a general body member, a coordinator, vice president, and now president, I have seen so many incredible events come through campus. It’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite. A few that stand out to me are Dawgs After Dark: Larger Than Life, Film on the Fifty, and Drag Queen Bingo. Dawgs After Dark: Larger Than Life is my all-time favorite Dawgs After Dark theme because I felt like I was in Honey I Shrunk the Kids with all the gigantic inflatable chairs, giant photo booth props, and classic catering from my childhood (I have a weakness for Pizza Rolls and mac n’ cheese). Film on the Fifty needs no explanation. I mean, watching Guardians of the Galaxy or Star Wars on the big screen in the one and only Sanford Stadium? It doesn’t get much cooler than that. And finally, there’s Drag Queen Bingo. I’ll be the first to admit that this one was a bit of a surprise. I’m probably one of the world’s biggest RuPaul’s Drag Race fans, but I would have never guess that nearly 300 students would come out on a Thursday night to watch local Athens drag queens perform while they called out bingo numbers. Union has presented me with so many amazing events and opportunities, yet the most rewarding part always comes from the general body members. Maybe I’m a softy because of my history with Union, but there is just something so rewarding about seeing members join as freshmen or sophomores just to make friends or get free stuff then slowly watching their passion grow. I can say I’ve had a successful presidency when the time finally comes to train next year’s enthusiastic new exec board and pass the torch. I can safely say that, because of University Union, I have learned that it really is great to be a Georgia Bulldog!