First generation college student finds success

Vice President of Senate Jason Sparks works with Student Government Association members to bring SGA “to the students for the students.” This was Sparks campaign in the 2017 SGA Officer elections. 

Despite common difficulties associated with being a first generation college student, junior Jason Sparks found success in his endeavor for higher education.

Students elected Spark the vice president of Student Government Association Senate under the slogan “to the students, for the students.”

Sparks said he holds himself to high expectations. He said he was extremely excited to receive the Vice President of Senate position from Tyler Delano back in April.

“My sister and I are first-generation college students,” Sparks said. “She is working on her doctorate now. She is really smart, and graduated from high school at 16, so I am following powerful footsteps.”

Sparks is from Muscle Shoals and graduated from Muscle Shoals High School in 2015.

Sparks’ colleagues said he works hard to keep his grades up, stay present in the SGA and stay financially stable.

Senior Hayden Sutton, Sparks’ roommate, said Sparks is an outstanding person.

“He is honest and trustworthy, always there for you when you need him and always willing to help,” Sutton said. “I always know that I can count on him, and I have the utmost respect for him.”

Sparks is in the College of Republicans, Catholic Campus Ministries and Alpha Tau Omega.

One of Sparks’ fraternity brothers, junior Will Lindsey, said he has known Sparks for a long time.

“He’s everything you could ask for as a friend, Senate VP and fraternity brother,” Sparks said, “He sets his mind on things and works hard to get things done.”

Tyler Thompson, director of student engagement, said Sparks is a good listener, which Thompson said is extremely important for his role.

Sophomore Grace Binkowski said Sparks is a driven leader.

“His heart is for the students and desires for SGA to be a positive organization on campus,” Binkowski said.

Sparks said he, along with all of the executive branch, is working to push senators to capacity so every student can have representation.

Sparks said Senate has a maximum capacity of 31 senators right now. This allows each senator to represent 240 students.

“We are striving to get more student input this year more than ever before,” Sparks said.

Junior Sam Mashburn said Sparks was an asset to the Rules and Regulations committee last year.

Mashburn said Sparks, alongside senior Andrew Barton, created and altered the Code of Laws concerning the Judicial Branch of SGA.

“One thing I really appreciate about Sparks’ leadership style is that he allows people to be creative in the way they accomplish goals,” Mashburn said, “Sparks is always willing to help enable people to be better leaders themselves.”

Sparks said he looks forward to the rest of his time in office.

“My time as VP has already been more than I could have imagined,” Sparks said. “Being able to come to UNA everyday and be able to see the changes we’ve made, knowing the things we are working on, and knowing we have a bright future ahead gets me so excited and ready for things to get done for the welfare of the student body.”