If one thing can be said about Student Senate President Dillion Gallagher (Seven Hills / St. Columbkille) and Vice President Doug Huff (Cleveland / Artemis Ward), it’s that they care deeply about the student body. This brotherly love shaped the platform the two seniors ran on last spring and it guides their leadership of Senate, one of the busiest and most impactful student organizations.
Gallagher and Huff are best friends and active participants in a variety of student organizations, including shared membership in Model UN, the Ignatian Alliance, and National Honors Society.
This year, the two student leaders set out to do more to improve the student experience at Saint Ignatius.
“While [Senate] is a great organization, I thought that there was a lot more concrete things it could be doing, a bit more tangible things that could help students out in ways that it hadn’t been doing in the past,” Gallagher said.
“One of the things we ran on was our new committee idea called Student Services, but now it’s known as Student Life,” Huff said. “Our plan for that committee was to help kids that had been out of school for long periods of time and kind of bring them back into the ‘school mode’ and help ease them back into it.”
The idea grew after several classmates last year had extended absences due to surgeries and serious illnesses. Now, Student Senate provides a peer aide for each student in need to provide academic and social support.
Little did they know that this program’s first subject would be Gallagher himself.
“[Doug] was the head of the Student Life committee so he kind of volunteered to be my aide and take on my work and get that to me,” said Gallagher, who missed the first three weeks of the school year due to surgery. “Plenty of days he would come after school, bring me my work and just hang out and help me get through it.”
For Huff, that meant a full plate of responsibility—and assuming the duties of President, which even included planning the highly anticipated Homecoming dance.
“It was new—a little bit stressful, but it was fun,” he said. “I mean, I enjoyed it. I kinda wish I had the power back.”
Since then, the pair also organized the first of what they hope are many town hall meetings, which allow them to hear directly from the student body about issues and concerns. Additionally, they formed a campus safety commission that covers topics ranging from “substance abuse to general mental health topics to safety on campus,” according to Gallagher.
Leadership, as they have learned, is about much more than a title. Halfway through their year as the heads of the student body, they have already identified leadership lessons that they will carry with them into college and beyond.
“It’s a lot less straight-forward [than I expected],” Huff said.
“It’s a lot more complex,” Gallagher added. “Many more people that you need to involve if you want to produce something that’s going to work.”
Huff, who also serves as captain of the wrestling team, acknowledged the challenges of time management and juggling multiple leadership commitments as a learning opportunity. Gallagher sees his other extracurricular activities, which include the Ignatians for Peace & Justice, as avenues for him to lead by example, even when he doesn’t have any formal title or responsibility.
As eighth graders, both sensed that Saint Ignatius was the right place for them, so much so that they didn’t shadow anywhere else. Four years later, they see their opportunity to lead the student body as a way to give back to the school that has given them so much.
“The thing I love most about it is just the people,” Huff said. “I enjoy the time I spend with these people, so it’s worth it in the sense that it balance itself out. I might be more stressed out, but these people are great and I get to spend more time with them. I get to meet new people. I get to meet new kids around the neighborhood and go connect with them. The experience is great.”
Gallagher agrees wholeheartedly.
“The people I’ve met here have been some of the best people I’ve ever met anywhere, and I really do believe that,” he said. “The connections you can make here—the personal connections with people—I wouldn’t trade for anything else.”
“When you offer that to kids and you allow them to come to a place where they’re valued in every possible way, not just because they’re good at sports, not just because they’re extremely smart, but really as a whole person—when you offer them that, it’s not hard to imagine that they would want to give back to it.”
Late in the first semester, both Gallagher and Huff were admitted into some of the country’s most highly regarded schools. Gallagher has since put a deposit down at Princeton University and Huff accepted a full scholarship to Northwestern University.
As they enter their last semester at Saint Ignatius, they look to their graduation with a mix of anxiety and anticipation.
“It’s a thing we’ve all been thinking about, as much as we don’t want to admit it necessarily that we’re going to be leaving at some point,” Gallagher said.
“Walking across the stage I just want to inspire some other people, some underclassmen, to kind of have the same passion that we have for the school and try to make it a better place,” Huff said.
The year is only half over, but it’s a mission well on its way to being accomplished.
Hometown, Grade School:
Gallagher: Seven Hills, St. Columbkille
Huff: Cleveland, Artemis Ward
Gallagher: Dr. Caputo
Huff: Mr. Popelka
Favorite Cafeteria Food?
Gallagher: Riche Burger
Huff: Salad bar
Nicest Person on Campus?
Gallagher: Ms. Preske
Huff: Ms. Preske
Who Inspires You?
Blue or Gold?
Huff: Blue “without a doubt”