Nunn School Student Samuel Ellis Ready to ‘Make Good Change’ as Undergrad SGA President

Ajanta Choudhury and Samuel Ellis

Posted May 14, 2021

Samuel Ellis, who was raised by two avid Tennessee Volunteers, learned from a young age the importance of giving back. While his Jewish faith taught him that serving others was an obligation. 

“I am a practicing Jew, and the number one takeaway from that upbringing, is that social justice is the bread and butter of Judaism,” explained Ellis, a rising fourth-year International Affairs student. “These teachings get you to think about others and also inform you on how to serve them.”

Ellis, who was recently sworn in as the undergrad Student Government Association (SGA) president, has been involved in many initiatives, including working with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated on the Wreck the Vote in 2019 and serving as a poll manager in 2020 for the student-run precinct at McCamish Pavilion on Georgia Tech’s campus. 

“I came to Tech and learned about everything that’s happening in my community and around the world,” said Ellis. “Students can work to combat systemic inequity, and that is what led me to participate in voter registration and also work for the ACLU of Georgia.”

As the McCamish Pavilion poll manager, he worked with a team of industrial and systems engineers to help design the layout for McCamish Pavilion to make it one of the most efficient polling sites in the country. He also helped recruit student workers.

“It was heartening for me to have over 250 people complete the interest form even though I could only take 12 employees,” explained Ellis. “I ended up working with the ACLU to create a landing page for Georgia Tech students to sign up for the ACLU Poll Worker Project. It was meaningful to see that energy for civic service and engagement."

He became involved in SGA in the spring of his first year after joining the Government Relations Committee. Then in his second year, he served as the International Affairs house representative and later as vice president of external affairs this past year. Ellis decided to run for SGA president because he knew what he wanted for Georgia Tech and knew how to make it better. 

“I didn’t go into my role on SGA this year ever intending to run, but I have figured out how to make good change happen, and it would be wrong for me to walk away now,” explained Ellis. “My attitude about it is if you figure out how to build a house by learning how to roof, put in the tiles, and pour the foundation, it’s not enough to have a nice house for yourself. It’s time to look at the neighborhood around you and start getting to work building your neighbors’ houses.”

During the campaign, Ellis decided to wait to write a platform until he built a diverse team from different parts of campus. The group of 20 people sat down two to three times a week for four months and narrowed down the topics to not be a wish list but a realistic, actionable plan. Ellis intends to start making progress on this plan this summer. 

“I firmly believe in using the summer since there is important work to get done,” said Ellis. “I want to get the policies in place for transparent curving so that there are more clear rules regarding non-traditional grading metrics. I also want to get a head start on reforming The Office of Student Integrity (OSI) since there is a long backlog.”

At the end of his term, Ellis hopes students will say that his team was never complacent, listened, and figured out what was needed to foster long-term change. 

“To me, it’s not enough to just sit by and enjoy the benefits,” expressed Ellis. “ I have an obligation to leave this place better than it was. I am ready to get out there and get to work to serve those around me as best as I can.” 

Students are encouraged to contact Samuel Ellis ( with any questions, comments, or concerns. 

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Sam Nunn School of International Affairs