From struggles come inspiration

Before he came to college, Kyle Cady never thought he would become involved with student government or the world of politics. Now his life is consumed by student politics, and he would have it no other way.

Before he came to college, Kyle Cady never thought he would become involved with student government or the world of politics.

Now his life is consumed by student politics, and he would have it no other way.

Cady, vice president-elect for the Associated Students of Portland State University, will take office in June along with president-elect Hannah Fisher. When he came to Portland State last summer, Cady said he could have become involved with politics by working on the Barack Obama presidential campaign or on the Steve Novick senatorial campaign, but he instead felt compelled to get involved at PSU.

“I saw no one was rising to help students,” Cady said. “I felt obligated to step in and fill that gap.”

Growing up in Fitchburg, Mass., was not an easy time for Cady and his family, he said.

Because of increased housing prices and the poor economy in general that stormed the Eastern seaboard in the early 1990s, his family had no choice but to leave.

Piling into an SUV, Cady, his parents and three siblings began their journey cross-country. After driving more than 3,000 miles, they found new life on seven acres of land in Gales Creek, Ore.,�� –about one hour outside of Portland.

Like his family’s struggles in Massachusetts, Cady found his own difficulties in Oregon.

From seventh grade through his junior year of high school, Cady was forced to drop out of school multiple times due to health complications. A rare autoimmune disease not only jeopardized Cady’s academic life, but also caused immense pain both socially and mentally.

He could no longer participate in simple after-school activities such as TAG (Talented and Gifted). A normal childhood was out of the question. Cady said he felt depressed and confused.

“Education was always important to me,” Cady said. “When you have that stripped from you, there’s a definite sense of loss.”

Cady said doctors told him he would always have complications from his illness and his only option was to take medication for the remainder of his life.

“For six years I was sick and depressed,” said Cady. “Buddhism and meditation helped me come to an understanding and move beyond.”

Cady said that meditation was the deciding factor in helping him cope.

Portland Community College was the site of Cady’s return to high school, which helped him secure a GED. While finishing up his senior year, Cady became involved in student government.

From 2005-06, Cady was a member of the PCC Rock Creek student government division, eventually working his way up to become the president of the Oregon Community College Student Association.

Before he transferred from PCC to PSU, Cady was an intern and vote organizer with the Oregon Student Association. It was around that time that he realized the importance of attending a state university, he said.

“I was basically lobbying for higher education but had never stepped foot in a university as a student. Felt I should get my degree,” he said.

Cady said he was so burnt out on student government that when he arrived at PSU, he wanted to have nothing to do with it.

“I didn’t want to get involved. I was really going to PSU to refocus myself on education and completing my degree,” Cady said.

Cady’s intent to stay clear of student government did not last long. After all the controversy surrounding the student elections last year–when Rudy Soto’s victory for the ASPSU presidency was appealed, overturned, then reinstated–Cady once again felt compelled to involve himself.

“Overall I felt the student government on campus was losing its legitimacy,” Cady said.

Starting next fall, Cady will take point as the next ASPSU vice-president, once again immersing himself in student government and higher education.

Fisher said Cady’s previous experience with student government will be vital to the success of student government next year.

“Any time you’re serving the people, the most important thing is to put everyone else before yourself, and Kyle does that,” she said.

Cady said that life after PSU is up in the air. He said he has given up any and all planning of his life.

“The best things happen unexpectedly,” Cady said. “Four years ago I would have never thought of becoming involved with student government. But it has inspired and motivated me to be the person that I am.”