Michael Corley, of Salem, begins his senior year at Salem State University as president of the Student Government Association (SGA) after being elected by his peers last spring. The new leadership role is a fitting capstone as Corley wraps up an undergraduate experience that has included significant civic and political engagement on and off campus.
“Civic engagement is my biggest passion,” said Corley. “I look around at what's happening within the country and am concerned about the future. The best way to help solve these problems is to get people informed and registered to vote.”
A native of New Port Richey, Florida, Corley moved to Massachusetts in 2019 to attend Salem State. A member of the Class of 2023, he is majoring in media and communication with a concentration in journalism and minoring in history and English. In addition to his role as SGA president, Corley is engaged in various campus activities: he is a “Viking Votes” ambassador, an admissions ambassador, and a board member of the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics (Berry IOP). Earlier this year, Corley was among 83 students and one of three in Massachusetts to be recognized on the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge Student Voting Honor Role. In 2020, he was one of 13 students to receive a Civic Engagement Scholarship from the Berry IOP.
As part of his on-campus civic engagement, Corley is advocating for Day on Democracy, in which colleges and universities observe some form of class cancellation for election day. He also aims to get students involved and actively voting in local and national elections. In the past three years as a Viking Votes ambassador, Corley has helped over 400 students register to vote.
During his time at Salem State, Corley has gotten to know the university’s president, John D. Keenan, who Corley says has been an advocate for him, along with Cynthia Lynch, executive director of the Center for Civic Engagement and the Frederick E. Berry Institute of Politics.
“She has been a mentor and helped me understand what it takes to be an outstanding civic agent,” said Corley of Lynch.
After Corley’s graduation in December 2022, he plans to attend graduate school to study public administration or political communication before pursuing a career in politics and continuing efforts to help others become engaged in their communities.
“I want to inspire and empower others so they know that even though they are one person, they can have an impact on our day-to-day lives,” said Corley.