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Aaron Fitzgerald ′10

Hometown: Youngstown OH
Major: Business administration with an international concentration
Fun Fact: Aaron graduated high school in three years, and was only 17 when he started at Rhodes. He will be 20 years old when he graduates.

You are the new president of Rhodes Student Government. Can you talk a little about your past experience with RSG and what prompted you to run for president?
Well, I started RSG my sophomore year. Then I was asked to be on the free speech committee - we worked to investigate different campuses’ speech policies and to decide if ours should be lightened. That kind of sparked my interest to run for vice-president. When I ran for VP, I campaigned on the purpose of getting softer toilet paper for Rhodes, which a lot of people thought was hilarious, and proved to be a campaign promise that worked. I really enjoyed being vice-president and because of that, I decided to run for president. But that’s not the sole reason. During my time at Rhodes I have been pretty active. I was a member of lecture board and a Peer Assistant to first-year students during fall orientation for three years. I just felt like everything I’ve done at Rhodes, not just being vice-president, led me here, and I thought I could do a good job as President.

So what are some of your plans for the coming year?
I want make RSG more visible on campus. I feel like a lot of students know what RSG is but they kind of have doubts about it and I hope people will think they can approach me. I get emails all the time – asking me what can be changed, what can they do, what can I do, and the answer is a lot. It just takes a little time and commitment from all sides. I am pushing the Campus Commitment through. We’ve started working on it, and will hopefully get it done before the end of my tenure. Students want to feel like Rhodes is their second home and what is the best way to vocalize that feeling than with a inspirational piece that defines who makes up the Rhodes community. It also will make faculty and staff abide by the honor system that currently only students must commitment to.

Switching gears, can you tell me about your study abroad experience this summer?
With 10 other students I went on Professor Birnbaum’s Maymester to Egypt. I’d never been out of the country before, so going to Egypt, a country that has its identity in both Africa and the Middle East, was awesome. We went to Cairo and stayed in a hotel there for three weeks. We did consulting for a jewelry company and worked closely with the owner, Abd El Aziz. Abd El Aziz, like most Egyptians, runs his business very differently from Americans. When we first stepped foot into his shop we noticed several things: his shop wasn’t manicured, workers weren’t trained well, his books for accounting weren’t kept, etc. Initially, I didn’t understand why he ran his jewelry business the way he did, but after meeting with him several times, and writing a consulting paper about things we thought he should improve on I came to the conclusion that business practices there were just totally different.

Is that sort of international business consulting what you want to do after you graduate?
That’s my hope. While I was in Egypt, I bought a book to learn to speak Arabic, but it’s a little more difficult than just looking at a book. Still, the book was kind of my introduction to the language, and Egypt was my introduction to the culture. There’s so much you can get from Arabic countries. I’ve always been interested Arabic and African countries, and hopefully I’ll get a job in consulting where I can live in the States, travel back and forth, or even live there for a few years. I’m a big picture type of guy, and have this fascination when it comes to different cultures. I can see the things that work great in the States and in Arabic countries and I can also see the things that don’t work well in the States but work better in Arabic countries. One thing that was really stressful during the program is that business culture in America is very different from business culture there, so we had to write our papers taking into account the culture, and trying to be as frank as possible without overstepping boundaries.

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