Austin Blanton is a powerful force across Auburn’s campus. He serves as an Honors Ambassador, a leading member of a campus wide LGBTQ+ initiative, and as the Executive Vice President of Curricular Programs for Emerge, which keeps him busy. Not to meantion his triple major course load.
Blanton is a Honors College junior from Hoover, Alabama pursuing a triple major in Biomedical Sciences, Premed and Neuroscience. For as long as Blanton could remember he wanted to become a doctor and started to get involved with a Health Science Academy and EMT training in high school. “I love it because it combines science but also has the social aspect of face to face interaction while making an impact,” said Blanton.
In addition to pursuing three degrees, Blanton also leads an LGBTQ+ initiative across Auburn’s campus. Blanton’s main objective is to help lead the effort to create a solid foundation and framework for this initiative. This includes bringing together action committees which help implement the agreed agenda on campus.
Blanton biggest goal for this LGBTQ+ initiative is creating a mechanism for continuous change.
“I want this to be something that will continue to grow and happen year after year. I want to push for this to be a more equitable LGBTQ+ community at Auburn,” said Blanton. He is so excited to see the change that is already taking place throughout campus.
“The best part of this process and initiative has been seeing the amount of support we have from the Auburn community,” said Blanton. Even at the initial prospective meeting, Blanton explained the gravity of how important this is and to see how far we’ve come.
Blanton was blown away to see the over 100 responses to fulfill the 20 open leadership roles.
The biggest challenge has been learning to work with faculty and administration as co-equals in this process. “It is a shift and we are working to pull together different parts of Auburn’s campus and treat them as co-equal to address this issue,” said Blanton.
You would think the heavy coursework load and time commitment of helping lead a LGBTQ+ initiative across campus was enough to fulfill someone’s day, but Blanton is also Executive Vice President of Curricular Programs for Emerge.
“The reason I got involved with the LGBTQ+ Initiative originated from the Catalyst Workshop that was put on by Emerge during sophomore year while I was a team leader.”
It was after that workshop that Blanton realized he needed to be doing more.
“My experience with Emerge and the initiative is intertwined. Without the foundational knowledge from Emerge I would not bring what I currently bring to the table. However, without this initiative I would not have the opportunity to take what I learned from Emerge and apply it to a real-life setting,” Blanton noted.
Emerge has taught Blanton that every single person has the ability to emerge as a leader.
The hardest part of balancing the schoolwork, LGBTQ+ Initiative and EVP of Curricular Programs is Blanton’s very passionate about all of them. “It is so important that I remain present for whatever task is at hand. I need to focus my time and prioritize what I am currently spending my time on,” he explained.
To no one’s surprise, COVID-19 has impacted many things. However, Blanton has seen some of these recent impacts in a positive light. “I have really seen people push their limits and stretch their creativity in a way we have not had to before,” said Blanton. His goal is continuing to make this experience as beneficial as possible to students, even with the current situation at hand.
In fact, Blanton plans to continue to carry over some of the changes that were made because of the pandemic. For example, they have started to do hybrid event formats to become more accessible to students and he has seen a positive impact from it. This helps students who are unavailable to attend the event and still have access to the information that was given out.
Blanton attributes these accomplishments with joining Honors College freshman year.
Blanton was able to come in and connect with his peers and the Auburn community from the very beginning with Honors College. He was given the opportunity to get involved with ‘Week of Service’ and become an Honors Ambassador. “Becoming an Honors Ambassador has allowed me to come in touch with incoming students and show people the platform that Honors has given me to launch off of.”
Thank you Austin for being a force of change across the Auburn University campus!
-Written by Megan Bloomquist