EUGENE, Ore.—Nick Keough, Lane Community College 2018/19 student body president, grew up in Texas and moved to Eugene a few years ago after his sister moved here. At first, attending college seemed unattainable, but Lane Community College gave him an affordable way to take a variety of classes such as theater and graphic design and figure out what he wanted to do. He was 19 when he enrolled.
"I started taking some political science classes and then the 2016 election happened," Keough says. "That was a catalyst to me getting into advocacy and community organizing and getting involved in student government. And one of the great things about community college is that you do have the freedom to say, I tried these classes and that's not for me. What else can I do?"
In 2016, Keough was recruited as an intern for the Oregon Student Association, a statewide, student-led advocacy and organizing nonprofit. After gaining some experience lobbying legislators to support bills that are good for students, he was encouraged to run as a senator for Lane's student government. After being elected, Keough says he "fully dove in."
"I found my community," he says. "Another great thing about Lane is that everyone's on your team and rooting for you and encouraging you to do more and get involved. My biggest piece of advice to anyone here is to get as involved as you can because that's what makes you really want to excel and keep showing up. You find your community and your friends and, even after you graduate, that stuff that stays with you which is really impactful."
This year, Keough ran again for student senator and was reelected, then became student body president after the president and vice president resigned their post. After graduating in spring 2019 with his Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer degree, Keough turned his student government experience into some scholarships. He is now preparing to attend the University of Oregon this fall as a junior majoring in political science.
"I graduated with a 4.0 as student body president," Keough says, now 22. "I'm pretty proud of that. I was not the best student in high school but I felt empowered here and I decided that I really cared about my future."
Published by Marketing and Public Affairs, July 2019.