Stepping Down and Stepping Up: James Parnell Succeeds Aaron Oliver as Student Council President

May 3, 2011

Graduating senior seminarian Aaron Oliver is stepping down after completing his term as President of Student Council and making way for President-Elect James Parnell, a 1st-year seminarian who acted as his class representative on the council this past year. Continuing in their respective roles as Secretary and Treasurer are Andrew Boyd and Anoop Thomas.Graduating senior Aaron Oliver (left) is passing the reins of student government to newly elected Student Council President James ParnellGraduating senior Aaron Oliver (left) is passing the reins of student government to newly elected Student Council President James Parnell

“On behalf of the Student Council, I would like to congratulate James on his election as President-Elect of the council. His term will begin following Commencement,” announced seminarian Oliver.

“This is the first year that a Student Council has existed in decades, and we’ve really flourished at the school," he added. "We are establishing ourselves on campus in our role as a student voice, in being a liaison between the students and the administration, and in working to improve the quality of campus life and supporting the seminary’s mission.

“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve in this capacity and to work with the students and the administration,” seminarian Oliver summed up. “We’ve worked in an atmosphere of open communication, and among the tangible things we’ve accomplished are: acting as student observers on Faculty Council committee meetings and as representatives on the Alumni Board and Events Committee; and we have worked to increase student interaction with the Board of Trustees. Additionally, we’ve started various student organizations on campus as special interest groups.”

The Student Council was newly formed in May 2010, to strengthen student participation in campus life and to facilitate communication between students and faculty, staff, and administration. Seminarian Parnell not only will be President of the council next year but also will be one of two 2nd-year class representatives. Additionally, he will continue to act as Special Interest Group Coordinator, that is, as liaison between the various student groups—such as those representing environmental concerns, St. George Orthodox Military Association, outreach and missions, pro-Life advocacy, and so forth—and the Student Council.

Commenting on his new office, seminarian Parnell said, “I feel honored to have been chosen to succeed Aaron Oliver, who has given me big shoes to fill. He's served faithfully and diligently as our first President, and I hope to do even half as well as he has done. He's been a great source of knowledge and advice and has been a great help to me in my first year while transitioning into seminary life, as he is, like myself, a Chaplain Candidate in the Army National Guard. I joined the military while in high school and went on active duty status as soon as I graduated. I completed my Associate and Bachelor degrees while on active duty in the U.S. Army. I was rarely if ever a full-time student, given frequent stateside traveling for training and two overseas deployments. This has made the transition to a full-time, brick-and-mortar graduate school particularly tough after almost a decade in the military.

“My vision for next year is one of continuing some of the great programs we've started and ensuring further cooperation between the Student Council and the administration,” he continued. “I look forward to working with the Dean and Chancellor and the rest of the administration and have been very impressed with their support and have appreciated their guidance as we have progressed through the year. The concept of a Student Council at St. Vladimir's is still very new, and we have a lot of work to do to further integrate into the life and mission of the seminary. One of the main issues that I hope to address is, for lack of a better word, 'publicity.' I want to ensure that students know that we are here and available to help them with whatever issues arise. I'd like to see us take a more active role, not only as a Student Council but also as students in general.

"I've never participated as an officer in student government, but I am thankful for my frequent leadership opportunities while serving in the Army and the National Guard," he said in conclusion. "I hope to use the discipline, motivation, and leadership skills that I've learned in the military in this context as well in order to serve my fellow seminarians. That's really what our job is about as Student Council representatives: serving our fellow seminarians."