Clover High graduate Joe Wright sets his sights high. So when the University of South Carolina junior announced he was running for student body president, his parents weren't surprised.
Wright, 20, sent out fundraising letters to generate revenue for his campaign and spent weeks talking with student groups in the evening.
"I didn't sleep a lot," Wright said, laughing. "But it's worth it."
Wright, who graduated from Clover High in 2008, recently was elected USC's student body president. He was one of four candidates in an initial election, and he won a runoff election by a margin of 69 votes. But there's no time to savor his success. There's work to be done.
"It's pretty much like a full-time job," Wright said of his position, which he was to assume after inauguration Wednesday at the Columbia campus. An inauguration gala will be Thursday.
"I have a lot of important roles at the university, because I represent 28,000 people, graduate and undergraduate."
Wright, a finance and marketing major who served as Clover High School's student body president during the 2007-2008school year, takes his role seriously.
The son of David and Deborah Pressley Wright of Clover said one of his responsibilities will be to ensure a good future quality of life for USC students.
"USC is very important to our economic future, because we're investing in our future - Who's going to be making up the work force?" Wright said. "There's a lot that can be improved."
Deborah Wright said her son jumped into USC student body politics soon after arriving on campus as a freshman. Last year, he was involved in a USC student congressional advisory board that flew to Washington to communicate with elected leaders there.
In addition to a full load of class work, he manages to juggle other duties as a resident assistant and president of the student ambassadors, who give tours to prospective students.
"Joe has always been a hands-on person," Deborah Wright said. "He's very people-oriented. He enjoys getting involved for the betterment of a project. He's an inspiration to me, and really everyone he meets. He's very personable."
Wright said campaigning for the job was very demanding, and he often got only a few hours of sleep at night.
"I would go to class during the day, and then, from 5 to 9 o'clock, I'd go around campaigning. I'd speak to nearly 600 people in a night and I did this for four weeks."
After that, he said, he updated his website and his social media accounts and did his class work.
"It was quite the journey, and even if I had lost, I would not have regretted the whole thing, because you learn so much about yourself," Wright said. "You learn what you really want to do with your life, your passion."
Wright said among the biggest issues for students are athletics, food and parking. He wants to work to improve student turnout at sporting events, offer more dining options and address the scarcity of parking.
"A lot of people think that student government in college is like a student council in high school, and it's not like that at all," he said. "It's my job to use my presence to lobby on behalf of the student body."
Wright said serving as student body president was one way for him to give back to USC.
"I'm a very passionate person about USC, and I love this place because I feel it has opened so many doors for me."
Wright said he isn't sure what he wants to do after he graduates. He said he likes marketing because he's creative, but he enjoys finance because he also is analytical.
He said he will be doing a summer internship this year at Vanguard in Charlotte, which could turn into a job after he graduates. He'd like to work for two to four years, then earn a master's degree in business.
"I like empowering people, I like seeing the difference I can make in people's lives," he said. "... I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life, and I think these experiences will help me figure out what I want to do."