Story by Ashley Traylor, Staff writer
Clint Combs first stint as a student representative came in sixth grade, where he served on student council. At that moment, budget cuts never even crossed his mind. Almost 10 years later, though, they took center stage as Combs readied himself for a possible second term as Student Government Association president at Murray State.
Faced with Gov. Matt Bevin’s proposed budget cuts, Combs was in a position to lead gavel-in-hand, far from where he was his freshman year. In fact, Combs struggled to make headway into the organization he now leads until his junior year, when he was selected senator-at-large.
Campaigning began immediately when he was elected as senator-at-large.
“I really knew I would’ve enjoyed running for president as soon as I stepped on campus,” Combs said.
Combs ran for SGA president in 2015 and 2016, winning both elections. In 2015, he won 38 percent of the vote in a three-way race against his opponents, Luke King and Michael Mann. The next year, he defeated his opponent, Patrick Hooks, by 500 votes.
“I’ve always had a passion to represent my peers,” Combs said. “And I feel like I’ve been blessed with some ability to lead and I think through the years, I’ve really been able to hone in and work on my abilities to represent people and know how to look past my own personal views to a much larger group.”
Because of Bevin’s university budget cuts, SGA experienced a 22 percent funding cut, which brought challenges to his presidency.
Combs lobbied for Murray State students to ensure academic programs and student services did not take a hard hit from the cuts.
He also created the Racers in Action program, which helped students to send 241 letters to 47 legislators concerning higher education.
Combs organized the Rally for Education. He confirmed political speakers and invited public and private universities to the Capitol to prioritize higher education.
“That was a really unique opportunity and really unique experience,” he said. “It was a very stressful one, but I think it was a very successful one as well.”
He spent time restructuring the internal organization by updating the constitution, student senate formats, office hours, committee meetings and created an online agenda to cut down on printing costs.
Under Combs leadership, the SGA website was modernized, two new security poles were installed on the south end of campus and a computer bank and meal bank program were created, among other things.
“I really hope a lot of that work I put in on the internal part of SGA, our next group will continue to work with that and strengthen it even further,” Combs said.
Combs said serving as SGA president has been a humbling experience and has bettered him as a person. He said this position has made him value empowering others.
“If there’s something that they’re passionate about, then empowering them to pursue that and not trying to be that guy who gets all the glory and praise,” Combs said. “That might’ve been exciting at some point, but I really just enjoy seeing a win for students.”