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Taking the Lead

Student body president Matt Williams addresses the Board of Trustees during a recent meeting in the Park Alumni Center.

New student body president Matt Williams is still recovering from the stress of running a successful campuswide campaign. But all he needed was a day or two to catch his breath before laying out his plans for the coming year.

Williams says he plans to build on the success of recent student administrations by improving the way students communicate among themselves and with administrators.

“We’ve got to find innovative ways to build Wolfpack pride and create an active, involved student body that wants to keep the university growing,” he says. “That’s how we build a community of students and graduates who remain forever linked to NC State.”

Youngest Kid in Class

As it turns out, Williams’ connection to NC State began before he could read or write. His mother, just 21 when he was born, took time off from school to begin raising him but returned to NC State when he was 5 years old.

“I used to color in the back of the room during her classes,” Williams says. “She always said I paid more attention in class than she did. And when she graduated, I actually walked with her. So yeah, I sort of already graduated from State.”

As early as elementary school, Williams realized he had an interest in politics and government.

“I remember getting elected as the class alternate and not realizing exactly what that meant, so I attended all the student government meetings anyway, and they were too nice to explain. Eventually I sort of became the de facto class rep,” he says.

Making a Detour

Despite his early connection to NC State, Williams enrolled at NC A&T University his freshman year.

Matt Williams

Matt Williams is NC State’s new student body president.

“After growing up here, I wanted to get away from Raleigh, step outside my comfort zone and find my own path,” he explains. “It took about two weeks before I realized my heart was here at NC State.”

Throughout his freshman year Williams remained very Wolfpack-focused, spending weekends and free time attending football games and visiting friends on campus. By the time he transferred to NC State, he was ready to hit the ground running as a sophomore in political science.

Williams’ involvement with student government began with stints on the Traditions Commission, which he ultimately chaired, and a term as a student senator.

Campaign Swings

This year’s campaign for student body president, compressed into just two weeks, was exhilarating but exhausting.

“There’s not much sleep during campaign weeks, especially when you’re trying to keep up with schoolwork,” he says. “Everyone is working during every free moment. It takes a tremendous amount of teamwork. You can’t become student body president without a great team.”

As the results came in on election day and the celebration began, Williams realized that one of the most important members of the team was missing.

“I actually put my mom on speakerphone so she could hear the results, and immediately I heard her start to sob, and then I just started to bawl, and then it was just a chain reaction down the line,” he says. “Everyone was so sleep-deprived, and they wanted this so much and had worked so hard. And to realize that all that hard work paid off, is just so amazing.”

Responses (12 Comments)

  • Dr. Carol Pope

    What a remarkable story and how fortunate we are to have this kind of student commitment and leadership on our campus. This story, and those of many others at NC State, remind me of why I love being a faculty member here and so enjoy our students.

    Congratulations to Mr. Williams!

  • Ethan K. Harrelson

    I had the honor of working with Mr. Williams while he was a student senator. He has great passion and love for our university. I have no doubt that he will go on to do great things for the student body at NC State.

  • Laurie Hayes

    I am so very proud of this wonderful young man! When he was an eighth-grader, he was already an outstanding leader and scholar.

  • Barbara B. Jones: May 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    You are definitely a role model for every young African American male and female. I hope hearing about your accomplishments will not stop here. My son graduated from NC State in 2000. He started working for Microsoft in Irving Texas after graduation. He is still there 13 years later. Congratulations!!!!

  • Dana Troutman

    Mr. SBP Williams–
    CONGRATULATIONS!!! I don’t even know you and I’m proud of you so I know your momma is proud of you too! What a great story of your life-long connection to NC State! Best wishes as you lead the Pack next year! You’re a great role model to other AA Males and I’m so excited to see all the big things you’ll do over the next year!

  • Christopher Cobb, PhD

    Congratulations, Mr. Williams!!! You will make your class and entire student body proud.

    Go Pack!!!
    c/o 1994

  • Marsha Anderson

    Matthew walked up to me at Cary High School Freshman Camp and said he wanted to become involved in student government; in fact, he wanted to run for class president. He not only became freshman class president, he eventually served as high school student body president. He is a fine young man and a great leader and as a NC State grad, I am proud to have Matt as the leader of the Pack! Matt, you are the best!

  • Brenda A. Gunnell

    What a WONDERFUL story Mat!! this just goes on to show that you can achieve anything you want to do in life through hard work and much dedication! you are truly an inspiration to other young African Americans!

  • Congratulations to you & your team! Strong communications is so important, and you have definitely shown that you’re up for the challenge. Best wishes for the year ahead!

  • Laurie Hayes

    So proud of you, Matt!

  • Karen Bullock, PhD

    Congratulations! Your success story is a true inspiration for all students. Winning the SBP election demonstrates your incredible leadership capacity at NC State. Your ability to mobilize a great team and work collectively to achieve common goals is remarkable. NCSU is fortunate have you as the (SBP)leader of the Pack!

  • J. B Valentine, M Ed

    Congratulations! A marvelous ‘testimony’ on the transformational affect that NCSU can have. Your story can inspire other young men of every culture to aspire to leadership roles on campus. Too many statistics focus on the ‘female’ college student. Your story proves that young men do and can..with support and encouragement! I look forward to hearing from ..and seeing your ‘administration’ in action! You go Matt! Make us (and your mom, too) proud…

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