Tuso ’11 celebrates being crowned Homecoming King in 2009

He’s been vice president. President. And even a king. But don’t think that Michael Tuso ’11 lets all of his achievements go to his head. In every leadership role, it’s what he can do for others that matters.

After being crowned 2009 Homecoming King, Michael worked to ensure the honor was more than a popularity contest. He saw it as yet another opportunity to serve, writing a piece of legislation to the Student Government Association (SGA) that recommended future kings and queens pursue a service project. Michael and his queen set the example by creating a Hope for Haiti fundraiser following the devastating earthquake.

“We wanted to set an example for service.”

And set an example, he has. His résumé reflects enough leadership and service roles for ten people. He served as SGA senator his freshman year, president his sophomore year (the youngest ever in the UNC system), and was a secretary for part of his junior year. He’s also been a Spartan orientation staff leader, a Student Advisory Board member for Lloyd International Honors College, and served on the Mayor’s Task Force, the Chancellor’s Budget Committee and the Inclusive Community Task Force, among many others.

I just had the sense that I could do well here.

Michael goes to Washington
It was, in part, his outstanding involvement that earned him a prestigious internship in Senator Kay Hagan’s Washington, DC office this summer. As a political science and international and global studies major, Michael found the internship to be a great fit. It gave him the opportunity to perform constituent outreach and research, conduct tours of the United States Capitol, and attend briefings and hearings by various political leaders such as Colin Powell, Shaun Donovan and Orrin Hatch. Plus, he was inside Senate Chambers when they voted to confirm Justice Elena Kagan.

“The internship has been an insightful experience into the important issues of our time. From a Supreme Court nomination, to the future of our economy, to the fate of immigration and energy policies, I’ve had the unique ability to be in the epicenter of the national political dialogue. It has given me a chance to tie together my past experiences and look to the future with a greater understanding of how our world works.”

A view of Peru
Michael’s world view is broadening even further as he spends the fall semester abroad in Peru. It’s his first time out of the country. While in Peru, he will be involved in another internship, this one with the International Institute for Electoral Democracy and Assistance (IDEA), an organization that supports sustainable democracy worldwide.

“I am very interested in sustainability. In Peru, there is a big push for economic development, but should that take place, it could be at the expense of the environment. There is a lot of discussion around that, and it will be very interesting to be immersed there.”

After Michael graduates from UNCG, he plans to pursue a master’s in economics, a law degree and, eventually, a career in teaching, possibly followed by politics. Not bad for a first-generation college student with a supportive family and a lot of drive.

“I take a lot of pride in being first-generation. I made some mistakes other students haven’t, but I think that has made it interesting. When I was first on campus, I just had the sense that I could do well here.”

Photography by Chris English, University Relations