William Warmke, a junior majoring in political science, criminology and economics, said he is just like most students on campus born and raised in Tampa Bay, enjoys computer games and had some challenges in high school.
On Friday afternoon, Warmke was announced as the 54th student body president with 2,376 votes.
When he takes office in May, he will represent the more than 40,000 students of the university at a local and state level and will oversee the more than $14 million budget of student activity and service fees.
Warmke wasnt always involved with school, though.
Originally I joined (Student Government) because a couple of friends said I should, he said. I didnt really know anything about it My first semester, I did nothing. I didnt get involved in anything. That semester was a transition for me, it was kind of rough.
Through high school, Warmke said the only activity he was involved with outside of class was his schools marching band. He said he had no idea what he was going to do with his life after high school, and was denied by every university he applied to in the state every university except USF.
It was kind of a reality check, Warmke said. Ill never forget that moment of not really knowing what I am going to do with my life. I feel it kept me humble.
High school also provided Warmke with a different set of challenges.
Coming out in high school as gay was not a good experience, he said.
Warmke said though his parents were accepting, many of his friends turned their backs on him, and he was left with a lack of confidence and motivation before going to college.
When he came to USF however, Warmke said he thought of USF as a clean slate to rebuild himself.
USF gave me all these oppurtunities, he said. It gave me a home away from home. Its an accepting environment, and once you have that support, you can do anything.
It wasnt until his spring semester of his freshman year that Warmke said he began getting involved with the university. He began participating in his buildings hall council, and rushed for his fraternity Sigma Nu.
That is where he met a member of his fraternity, former student body vice president Spencer Montgomery.
When he came in, Will stood out to the older brothers (of the fraternity), Montgomery said. He was charismatic and the hardest working of the new initiates, and we noticed that. Hes a great kid. He gets it.
Montgomery said Warmkes biggest attributes that will help him in his leading role in Student Government are his accountability and transparency.
He truly believes in whatever he is doing, Montgomery said. Doing whats right isnt always easy and you wont always please everyone, but if you can stand by your decision, it will make all the difference.
Warmke said another person he met in his involvement with Greek Life is his friend Lindsay Shelton, who he said was a huge help in his campaign for presidency. Shelton said she was incredibly excited when she heard he won, and considers him the best person for the job.
I loved going out to help him campaign, and seeing how he interacted with people, Shelton said. He pushes everyone around him to be a leader.
In his sophomore year at USF, Warmke began his career in Student Government as a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. When he joined the university community affairs committee that he met his running mate for student body vice president, and the person he calls his best friend, Scott Sandoval, a graduate student majoring in English education.
Warmke said he enjoyed being part of the SG because he was able to get feedback from students. When the position of Solicitor General came into being, Warmke said he applied for it to be an advocate for the students. This position, he said, was created to defend students in impeachment trials, appeals and more.
I really got the outsider perspective of Student Government, Warmke said. I really saw peoples problems with SG. The lack of communication, the lack of outreach. I really noticed the huge gap between people inside SG and the people outside SG.
Besides SG, Warmke said he has been involved with leadership in the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, Housing, Greek Life and philanthropy on campus. Working as a resident assistant for the leadership living learning community, he said he learned the most about leadership.
It shaped my vision of leadership, Warmke said. (It showed leadership as a) role to encompass all students from all backgrounds, and how to interact with different people so we can get things done.
Warmke is also currently the executive director of the Greek Programming Board. Serving on the board for the past three years, Warmke said he was able to do more to help more in the community, donating to causes such as the Childrens Miracle Network.
This he said, took on personal meaning to him when his nephew was born with a kidney disorder that caused a kidney to fail and was treated at All Childrens Hospital.
Ever since then, I have been pushing and pushing for All Childrens Hospital, Warmke said.
Warmke said he took leading roles in Dance Marathon, which took place this weekend. Though he said he no longer plans on having leadership roles on the Greek Programming Board or in housing, he said he is undecided in continuing his leadership with dance marathon.
Prior to taking office in April, Warmke said he will focus most on learning where the current SG administration is at to make the transition as smooth as possible.
I dont want to start over with Student Government, he said. I want to keep moving forward.
Before he decides on what he specifically wants to implement over the next year on SG, Warmke said he learned a lot on his campaign to presidency.
It was definitely a long road, he said. The second we heard our names, it was just relief. We had finally gotten what we had worked so hard for. It was a good feeling.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been updated to reflect corrections from its original version.