Hard work pays off for USG president


By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

Some say the harder you work the luckier you get. If that is the case, then Undergraduate Student Government President Kevin Gettis is one of the luckiest men in Carbondale.

“Ever since he was a young boy I told him — you can’t control how tall you are or how short you are,” said Kevin Gettis, father of the newly elected student official. “But what you can control is how hard you work. Just don’t get out worked.”

Gettis, who will be inaugurated Thursday, said he has big plans for his candidacy. He plans on giving students a stronger voice when it comes to decision making. 


“I want to make the USG a household name,” said Gettis, a senior from Belleville studying history. “I want to reach out and connect with students, get a feel for what they want on campus.”

Gettis grew up as the middle child in a working class family. He remembers coming home on summer nights with his older sister, Kristen, and younger brother, Clayton, with bumps and bruises from the day’s activities.

Growing up in an active family led the younger Kevin to be competitive in everything he does, he said.

“We competed constantly, I remember beating [Clayton] in the video game Madden football 124-6,” Gettis said. “I don’t think he will ever live that one down.”

Sports were a staple in the Gettis household. He was raised following the St. Louis Rams and Cardinals and was a Los Angeles Lakers fan. He looked up to athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson and Muhammad Ali and labels himself a sports fanatic.

He could also perform on the field as well.

Gettis played outside linebacker for McKendree University in Lebanon in 2012. His brother, a senior at O’Fallon Township High School, just signed his letter of intent to play football for Milikin University, a Division III program located in Decatur. 


The elder Gettis took the role of coach early in his son’s life. He started playing soccer when he was younger, then made the transition onto the football field.

“He took to the sport like a duck to water,” Kevin’s father said. “Kevin’s very competitive, but he is able to keep his head held high in a loss.” 

That positive attitude spanned in social clubs as well. 

In high school, the younger Gettis competed in football, basketball and track, and was a member of the young Democrats group, National Honor Society. He was elected to homecoming court three times and took four years of French.

Gettis is scheduled to graduate in 2016 and plans on attending law school after. Although he is involved in university politics, Gettis is not planning on pursuing a career in it. 

“I know I don’t want to be a politician. It’s way too stressful,” he said. “I’m just hoping to finish my term without any gray hairs.” 

He said he learned valuable life lessons throughout the process of getting elected, often working 12-hour days during the campaign.

Ashley Banks, his campaign assistant, saw this first hand.

“It was a rigorous process, but Kevin kept the same humble composure throughout,” said Banks, a senior from St. Louis studying mortuary science and funeral services.

Although Gettis has not officially taken office yet, he is trying to make his mark at SIU. He wrote a letter to Gov. Bruce Rauner asking to give the student trustee a vote in administrative decisions.

Gettis urges students to come in and have a conversation with him and discuss their thoughts on university policies.

“I want to get involved and be more knowledgeable about an individual’s experience at SIU,” Gettis said.