5 questions with…VP of Student Life Patrick Vaughn

Patrick Vaughn has served in a variety of leadership roles throughout his four years at Case Western Reserve, but perhaps none fit him so aptly as his current position: vice president of student life.

Though it may be his official title on the Undergraduate Student Government, it also seems like it could be a fitting unofficial designation for someone who is constantly involved in all aspects of student life.

“Outside of class and student activities—that’s pretty much it for me. They’re my interests,” Vaughn said.

But those interests are plenty.

The senior chemistry major—who is on the pre-dental track, has a minor in dance and is working toward minors in biology and medical anthropology—doesn’t only serve as USG’s VP of Student Life. He dances in the Indian and African student groups. He’s a supplemental instructor for calculus courses. He is the founder and chair of the Student Interfaith Board. He is the past-chair of USG’s diversity and inclusion committee—a committee he helped create his first year at Case Western Reserve. He is among the students helping re-energize Share the Vision and its ideals—including speaking at Friday’s Building Community at CWRU event—and this year he was honored with Share the Vision’s Student Leadership Award. Those are just a few of the activities in which he takes part. The list could go on. And on.

At the moment, though, Vaughn’s focus is on improving the lives of other students at Case Western Reserve. This year, USG implemented a new online forum for students to express their concerns; Vaughn hopes that, by the end of the year, they will have considered each person’s concern.

His desire to improve life on campus aligns well with his career aspirations as well. After completing dental school—for which he’s now applying—he hopes to spend time in underdeveloped nations providing dental care and oral hygiene education to others, in an attempt to improve their health and well-being.

“I just want to help people, really,” he said. “That’s it.”

Read more about the Detroit native in this week’s five questions.

1. What are you reading—and how are you reading it (print vs. digital)?
I don’t have a lot of time to read, but I’ve probably read the ADEA Official Guide to Dental Schools 30 times, front to back. It has tips for applications and interviewing and what student groups are available to dental students, so I read it every week for interviews. It’s in print.

I actually don’t really read online, and right now I can’t: I don’t have a computer right now because it’s broken, and I don’t even have a smartphone.

2. What can’t you live without?
I noticed this yesterday at a group meeting: I wasn’t allowed to talk, and I was horrible at it. I just kept talking. So talking definitely is something I couldn’t live without. I think my ability to talk provides me with a lot of entertainment. For example, on my plane rides to interviews for dental school, I keep myself occupied by talking to people around me, and I actually make real connections with them. I think that without the ability to talk, I would feel very inhibited.

3. What’s your favorite spot on campus?
The Mather Dance Center—partly because I have experienced a lot of self-growth within the building, but also because I feel the most amount of community on campus there. We’re a really small department, just a year old, and you can just really feel the family aspect when you’re in the center. Whenever something good happens—or something bad—someone is always there. It’s where I know I’ll always have backup.

4. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Melanie Scanlon in Office of Student Activities and Leadership—who is one of my greatest role models and closest friends—told me recently to be fearless in all aspects of my life. I go after things all the time here on campus, but there are certain things I’m not as confident in, like my interviews. So she told me to be fearless and just go for it.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
I’d say two things: I love our tagline of “think beyond the possible.” I think it’s an accurate description of what a student can do on our campus. Who would have thought I’d be able to be a chemistry/pre-dental student but also focus in dance? I think a lot of students have similar experiences in so many different ways. There are so many amazing opportunities available here.

I think the reason people have those options to do so much is because of the people. The faculty and staff here encourage us to explore so many options and push us to do different things, and allowing us to do that is really beneficial. And then there are the students—the ones who have come before us and the ones paving the way right now so future students can keep doing all of these different things and growing in all aspects of their life. It’s amazing.