Former SBP Michael Scott Peters selected as Youth Observer to the UN
October 23, 2018
Story by Jordan Baker
Today is United Nations Day, a time to commemorate the United Nations efforts to make our world a better place. Since 1945, member states to the UN have worked together to prevent conflict and help parties in conflict make peace. Former first lady and UN supporter Eleanor Roosevelt even declared the organization as “our greatest hope for future peace”.
In an effort to increase youth engagement in global affairs, the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Association created the U.S. Youth Observer.
We spoke with newly elected U.S. Youth Observer and former Utah State University student body president Michael Scott Peters about his work in amplifying student involvement on international issues and how his experience as a student leader prepared him for his most challenging role yet.
NCLC: What was your experience like as the student body president of the Utah State University Student Association for the 2017-18 school year?
Michael Scott Peters: I had a very positive experience, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to represent students and the interests of the entire campus. Utah State is in a unique position because it’s not just one campus in one city, but it’s the representing state school for the state of Utah. It was really cool to get that perspective and be able to help as many people as we could. It’s a short-term role and one year goes by quick, but I feel like we were able to accomplish a lot.
NCLC: What issues did your student government address during your term?
MSP: During my year as president, we promoted mental health services as well as services to combat sexual assault, which we were able to accomplish with the Upstander Training Program. Instead of just talking about why we should be bystanders and how to be good bystanders, we encouraged students to become “upstanders” and actively engage in the prevention of campus sexual assault.
We also created the Aggie Heroes Initiative, a TED-Talk style event where students and staff from different backgrounds would take the stage and share something that had been challenging in their lives and how they had worked to overcome it. I think a lot of times people tend to focus their attention on the basketball team and the football team, and even our own student leaders, but Aggie Heroes allowed for the voices of our diverse student population to be heard.
NCLC: You were recently appointed as the Youth Observer to the United Nations. What inspired you to seek out this opportunity?
MSP: Many of the initiatives that we brought to campus actually created a stepping stone for this opportunity to work with the United Nations as their new Youth Observer. I applied for this position during my term as president. I would say that my experience with student government played a key role in leadership on- and off-campus, but especially this role with the UN.
NCLC: In what ways has your student leader experience helped you engage young people across the U.S. in your new role?
MSP: These roles are actually very similar. My role as a student body president was to collect student feedback and learn about their needs on campus, later relaying those needs with the administration and help solve problems. My role as the U.S. Youth Observer to the United Nations is doing the exact same thing but on a national level. It involves traveling to college campuses across the nation, visiting high schools, attending the General Assembly, and attending UN mission trips to learn what the youth are interested in.
A lot of youth are interested in getting engaged on these issues, but many youths just don’t know how. It may be difficult for students to stop hunger in the Dominican Republic right now, but they can get started now by creating a student nutrition office here on campus. We can take these global issues and make them local to the needs of today’s students.
NCLC: What advice would you give to a student leader who is about to embark on a professional career and enter the world as a college graduate?
MSP: The best advice I have is to never be afraid to share goals. I’ve found that whenever I’ve shared my interests and desires with other people in casual conversations, more opportunities have come along. This opportunity with United Nations came from my work in the office of global engagement on campus.
NCLC: How can students follow your story and learn more about the U.N.?
MSP: Most of the work that I will be doing this year will be on social media channels! I highly encourage students to follow me on Twitter (@USYouthObserver) to see where we’re headed next and upcoming opportunities for them to get involved.
Photos provided courtesy of Michael Scott Peters
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