“I grew up in a small southern town in Alabama, population of about 10,000, at the south end of the Appalachian Mountains. Growing up I was involved in a lot of different groups and organizations. In high school, I played the trombone and was the president of band, and I was active in my community always putting on parties and socials. Which, I didn’t know at the time, would serve me well in this role as director of the Student Union.

When I came to the U, I was told things like, “this is a commuter school,” “a lot of students are married with kids,” and “students don’t want a nightlife.” All of which I’ve found to be untrue. Students want an active and vibrant college campus life.

But the Union isn’t just a place that holds events. I know the Union to be the community center where people of different backgrounds get together in a variety of settings to meet new people. The Union provides the mechanism whereby students can meet and find a community to thrive in and develop their leadership skills and give back.

I’ve always appreciated that what we do in the Union accents what is happening in the academic arena. We teach other skills that you may not find in, say, physics. I think we teach life skills.”

— Whit Hollis, director of the A. Ray Olpin Student Union

We’ll be featuring Humans of the U and sharing their stories throughout the year with the university community. If you know someone with a compelling story, let us know at