The new student body president at the University of South Carolina has a name familiar to many in Fort Mill.
Ross Lordo, 21, is a junior at USC and a graduate of Fort Mill High School. He was recently voted in as student body president at USC after two years of activity in student government.
The pre-med student joined student council at USC not because he had an interest in politics, he said, but because he recalled his high school experiences with student government and wanted to have a similar impact and experience as a college student.
“I love building relationships and creating change,” Lordo said. “I just wanted to be a leader in whatever situation I was in.”
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He served on the freshman council in his first year at USC, becoming one of 30 students to represent his class. He later served as a senator, then president pro tem, and later was elected vice president of the student body.
As Vice President, Lordo helped provide student input for the university’s committee that makes decisions on class scheduling and decision-making. Students previously did not have a voice on the committee. He helped provide an on-campus meal plan option for students in sorority and fraternity housing, and he helped plan Cockstock, the first on-campus concert during homecoming week, including creating Safe Ride, an Uber partnership that provided discount rides to students.
Lordo, whose mother Leanne Lordo is the Fort Mill School district’s assistant superintendent for finance and operations, has equally large plans as president of the student body.
He said he wants to continue the work he did as vice president by expanding the Safe Ride program, exploring a platform for digital student IDs, and potentially growing the student Wifi to athletic facilities, including Williams Brice stadium. He also plans to advocate for having course evaluations published online to help assist students as they decide on classes.
His biggest goal is to start planning for a new student union, he said.
“It’s the oldest student union in the SEC, and was renovated in the 1970s,” Lordo said.
“So, even if I become everyone’s least favorite student body president, my plan is to create a new fee structure to raise capital for the student union. It’s not something that can be completed in my term, but it’s a foundation setter for the future.”
Already, Lordo is somewhat of a pioneer in student government at USC. Studentstypically run as individuals for student government, but Lordo teamed up with other students and ran as a team on a coalition campaign ticket. The ticket began with a couple of students and over time, 30 candidates for senate joined the coalition. All were elected.
“I wanted to do something out of the box and show what a group of unified executive officers could do,” Lordo said. “We created a culture of unity and teamwork with a team platform that had a common vision and mission, with the same goals.”
Though some of his USC government peers have an eye toward a political future, Lordo said he has no such interest. He is goal is admission to medical school and doesn’t see himself ever running again for office.
The experience in student government, however, will be an asset in his medical career, Lordo, who recently learned he has been accepted to USC School of Medicine in Greenville, said.
“I think it’s taught me how to connect with a variety of people,” Lordo said.
“It translates directly to my career being a physician, working with all different types of people from all walks of life with different goals and values, and being able to communicate effectively with them is a skill I very much gained through this experience – which is why you can’t go into college with a certain major and think this is the only skill that will apply to you. Sometimes it’s better to get to get out of your comfort zone.”
As Lordo ticks off achievements at USC, he credits his years in Fort Mill schools for providing a solid foundation on which to build.
“Growing up in Fort Mill and going to Fort Mill schools, you are surrounded by an incredible group of mentors and teachers and administrators that teach you the most important things in life,” Lordo said.
“You get more than just your standard book education, you get life skills. Not just books and lectures, but life skills in how staff presents themselves, in how they sit and talk to you. It’s how I learned to be the best version of myself. It really set the stage for my success in college.”
Those mentors and teachers and administrators haven[t forgotten him.
“Fort Mill High School is very proud of all of the accomplishments of our students,” said Fort Mill High School Principal Dee Christopher.
“Ross is a great example of the type of students that graduate from our school and thrive in their next step. I am so excited that the folks at USC have recognized Ross for his talent of leading and bringing people together. It is no surprise to us that Ross has done so well at USC.”
And to his father, Lordo’s achievment has several layers of meaning.
“Being USC Alumni ourselves, it has been so special seeing Ross engage in the Carolina traditions,” Ron Lordo said.
“We are so proud to see Ross use his energy and passion for service to benefit the University of South Carolina and its students. We very much look forward to seeing the positive impact he can bring as student body president.”