“I hope I’d be known as a person who was not out for himself but who served in the best interest of others,” says Student Government Association President Peter Newby ’15 MBA
When Peter Newby ’15 MBA started his first year at Campbell University, he wanted to serve his peers. So he reached out to the then-president of the Student Government Association, Hank Raper' 11, and asked for guidance. Newby ended up running for and winning the elected SGA position of president of the freshman class. He was the men’s community coordinator his sophomore year, and the commuting students’ coordinator the following year. Last spring, students elected him executive president of the SGA. “I’m very honored to have this opportunity to serve the students, and I don’t take it lightly,” Newby says.
Newby, a senior in the Lundy-Fetterman School of Business's trust & wealth management and MBA 3/2 program, talked to Campbell.edu about his vision for SGA, his career aspirations, issues close to his heart, and what he has learned from his mother and his father, N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby. The following is an edited transcript.
Why did you get involved in campus politics and eventually run for SGA executive president?
I was involved on a very small scale in student government since high school. I knew I liked politics and that I wanted to help lead and serve the students while I was at Campbell. Over the years, I’ve gained different leadership experiences at all levels of the SGA. I felt led to run for president, and a lot of people encouraged me to do it. I was installed late spring, and I’ve been working this summer with Student Life and with the SGA’s executive council. We’ve been talking about the different things we want to see in SGA and how we want to serve the students.
What are those things you want to see happen?
Broader communication. SGA is the voice of the students to the administration and sort of the middle ground on anything that pertains to Student Life, but it’s hard for the students to know what we do and what our purpose is. We don’t have a website. We don’t have a huge presence on campus. Our offices are in the basement of Baldwin, not in the most visible spot. Right now the burden of communications is on students. They have to go out and search for us. Our goal is to get a great website, have a Meet Your Representative Day, and have class officers and representatives very visible on campus. We want to make it very easy for students who have a problem or an issue they want to talk about to be able to find someone in SGA to talk to.
What’s another priority?
I want to increase the involvement that student government has in clubs through funding, advertisement, and things of that nature. Having more active clubs will be beneficial to campus.
After your term ends, what do you hope you will be able to say about what you’ve accomplished as president?
I would love to be able to look back and say I wasn’t in it for myself and that I was in it for the students and SGA succeeded in its goal to serve the students.
Your father, Paul Newby, is an elected judge on the N.C. Supreme Court. What have you learned from him about politics and leadership?
North Carolina is somewhat unique. It’s one of the few states that elects the judges. Judges can’t voice an opinion and then a year later rule on a case that deals with that issue. You have to run on your record. You have to make sure that you’re the type of person you want to be known as—someone who is impartial and fair. My dad had eight years to develop his jurisprudence, to make a name for himself, and to be viewed as a fair, impartial judge who ruled by law and not by his own opinions. That is something that is very valuable that translates to campus politics and other areas of life.
What are your career aspirations?
I would love to end up in small business in a smaller community because that is where I feel like I can make the most impact. I want to be someone who is known in the community as a good business person who treats people right and who loves the Lord.
What type of small business?
I love real estate and do-it-yourself type of stuff. I can see myself getting into the real estate business and house remodeling business. Also, I absolutely love cars. I’d love to own a car dealership some day. You can sit me out on a car lot, and I can talk for hours about cars and have a wonderful time and not get tired. And, I want to go into the restaurant business. There are a lot of different things I’d love to do.
Have you thought about a career in politics?
I haven’t ruled out public service, but I’d love to establish myself as a business person before that. I think a lot of people in politics lose sight of why they are there. They start out early in politics and become a career politician. There’s nothing wrong with having a career in politics, but there is something wrong with being in politics for yourself. State politics would be where I would want to end up, if I go into politics. It’s hard to stay in touch with the people you’re supposed to be serving if they’re in North Carolina and you’re in Washington.
What are issues close to your heart?
I have a heart for orphans and for adoption. I have an older brother, an older sister, and a younger sister, and all four of us were adopted at birth. We’re from all over the country, but we all look alike. We’ve all got brown hair. So adoption is something very close to my heart and what I’m passionate about. As a Christian, I’ve actually been adopted twice—once at birth and again by Christ.
What do you want people to know about adoption?
It’s a huge sacrifice on the mother and the father giving up the baby, but it’s also a huge gift to people who adopt the child. I’m very blessed to be in the family I am in. I see my parents not as my adoptive parents, but as my parents. They are my mom and dad, and I’ve never seen them as anything else. I would love for people to know that adoption is an option for them.
What have learned from your mom and dad?
I’ve been raised in a Christian home where I was told that putting God first is the single most important thing that you can do in your life. If there was one thing I could tell the freshmen it would be to commit yourself to the Lord at the beginning of your time at Campbell. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” It’s hard to visualize that at the beginning, but focus on not what you want to do but who you want to be. Focus on who you are, because what you do can change in a moment, but who you are—nobody can take that away from you.
Who have you set out to be?
At the beginning I was focused on just making friends and not really on developing myself. But then I realized what a great opportunity I had. You have all these great people around you to develop friendships and connections with, but you also have this tremendous opportunity to become an academic. It’s important to find that balance between those relationships and developing your mind while in a college environment. I’ve been trying to make myself well-rounded. And, I hope I’d be known as a person who was not out for himself but who served in the best interest of others.
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Interview conducted by and edited by Cherry Crayton, Digital Content Coordinator
Photos by Bennett Scarborough