SGA President Cortez Whatley shares experiences
Published: Sunday, August 19, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 20, 2012 06:08
Cortez Whatley doesn’t drink coffee.
His caffeine-free existence may elicit a gasp if you take a look at his schedule, but Whatley gives credit for his energy to healthy living and simpler beverage choices, like milk or juice, even though he said it makes him sound like a little kid.
It must be doing a body good, because Whatley currently divides his time between being UCF student body president, chairman of the Florida Student Association and the first-ever UCF student to serve on the Florida Board of Governors.
The busy senior, who is double majoring in legal studies and public administration, also has months of studying for the LSAT ahead of him in the hope of breaking into a top-20 law school when he graduates in spring 2013.
The Central Florida Future had the opportunity to talk to Whatley about his current plans, future goals and a little bit of everything in between.
Central Florida Future: Tell us something we don’t know about you.
Whatley: My stepfather is actually in the military, so I traveled all across the country and lived overseas in England for three years while growing up. I’ve lived in North Carolina, Texas, Utah and Alabama.
CFF: What was your first job?
Whatley: My first job ever was at a fast-food chain called Backyard Burgers when I was 16. I worked there for seven or eight months, then the restaurant ended up going out of business and closing down.
CFF: Can you take us through the journey to becoming student body president?
Whatley: I joined the UCF College Democrats as a freshman and became the director of political activism for the club. I helped organize events, invite speakers and got the word out for students to vote. As a sophomore, I was vice president of College Democrats for a short time. Then I joined UCF Senate. Last year, I was the attorney general for the McCann-Brock administration. On Feb. 28, my birthday, I declared the ticket to be in the running for SGA president along with now-Vice President Rachel Brill. The results were read on March 28, Rachel’s birthday. Here we are now.
CFF: I’m sure sometimes even the student body president needs motivation; what keeps you going?
Whatley: I think good people chase after success, and I think exceptional people have success follow them everywhere they go. I’m a very positive and optimistic person and I think that in itself is one of the ways you can achieve your goals. Look at life and be more happy.
CFF: What is one past accomplishment that you are proud of?
Whatley: I was nominated to be mayor of the town for the day when I was a senior in high school. I got to pick a chief of police and a fire chief and learn all about the ins and outs of the city budget, funding and ongoing projects. When my fire chief had to respond to an actual fire with the real fire chief we got to see our positions in action.
CFF: Can you name something people often mistake about you?
Whatley: A common misconception of me is that I am extremely serious all the time. When I’m not on the job and out with my friends, I’m just relaxing and carefree. I have a laissez-faire attitude; I don’t believe in stressing.
CFF: What’s your favorite sport?
Whatley: I like every sport the United States represents in the Olympics, from handball to field hockey. I’ve been a Miami Heat fan ever since Dwyane Wade joined the team. He’s my favorite NBA player. I wasn’t a big fan of LeBron James, but I’m warming up. I like college basketball, too, and I played varsity basketball in high school.
CFF: What has been your greatest challenge in college thus far?
Whatley: Something I still think about every single day is the decision to vote for the increase in tuition on the Florida Board of Governors. I put a lot of thought into the information, did a lot of homework and read over a thousand pages of documents. It wasn’t a decision that went lightly. It was tough, knowing it wasn’t the popular decision. It is hard to be unpopular in a leadership role. The hard times are responding to questions before and after, critical emails and slander or libel. I still come back to the campus, I walk around the school. People who are ill informed make assumptions. I guess the toughest challenge is following through. Even though it could be right, the aftermath is still tough.