Born in West Jordan and the oldest of six children, Michael Scott Peters has been serving as Utah State University’s student body president since the beginning of this academic school year.
Peters’ life is busy as he balances his obligations with the Executive Council, school, President’s Cabinet, personal outreach, and making sure “Everyone Belongs” in the Aggie family.
Peters is working toward a dual major in marketing and international business and is set to graduate this spring.
“It is truly an honor to work and be associated with Michael Scott Peters,” said Linda Zimmerman, the director of student involvement and leadership. “I believe he serves the students of USU with honor and compassion. He works long, hard hours representing the needs of our students. He has the ability to look at the big picture and make decisions with the entire student body in mind.”
Peters begins every day with a run and personal scripture study before he arrives in the student center at 8 a.m. for his office hours. His days consists of writing emails, going to meetings and classes, and talking to students about their experiences at USU.
“I’m very motivated by people,” Peters said. “Everything I do is to give back to Utah State and the people here.”
Peters describes himself as someone who is very passionate about everything he does.
The first time that Peters came to the USU campus he was a senior in high school and came as part of leadership training for his high school’s student body government. During that training, he attended a basketball game and sat next to the USU student body president at the time, Eric Mickelson.
Peters said when he was sitting next to Mickelson, he was thinking, “This guy could be sitting anywhere that he wanted. He could be down in the front row, but instead he is sitting up in the nosebleeds with a bunch of high school students.”
That experience deeply impacted Peters’ life.
“(Mickelson) talked to us about the importance of focusing on other people and making life bigger than yourself,” Peters said. ”That moment really defined me and it really is about giving back to other people. It’s about building as you climb. You can keep climbing the ladder and keep doing better, but lift others up when you do that.”
Peters also has personal ties to Aggie Creamery. His great-uncle Gary Richardson, who the Dairy Products Lab is named after, was one of the original founders of the creamery. When Peters heard that, it became another reason for him to attend Utah State.
After graduating high school, Peters completed his freshman year at USU before serving for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Argentina Mendoza Mission.
While in Argentina, Peters fell in love with Latin culture. This inspired him to work in the Office of Global Engagement, working with international students in Global Academy. Global Academy plans activities for international students during the summer, like trips to Bear Lake and Salt Lake City, as they take English and other academic classes.
“(Working with Global Academy) helped me realize that there’s really more that we can be doing in helping our international students feel more part of the Aggie family,” Peters said. “That was one of the things that inspired me to run for student body president.”
Another experience that greatly affected Peters and his platform as student body president was a travel abroad program through the Huntsman Scholars. During this experience, Peters traveled with other students to six different European countries to study various governments and how to help people in Europe. While reflecting on how he would use the experience to help other people, Peters realized solving complex international issues with Russia or North Korea might be out of his reach, but he felt like he could do something on the local level.
“I thought to myself, ‘If I could do one thing before I graduate, it would be to spread this theme of inclusion,” Peters said. “There’s certain groups on campus that we can do more to help them feel more included.’”
Over Christmas break in 2016, Peters pondered and considered running for USUSA president. Eventually, he decided to run with the platform slogan of “Everyone Belongs.”
“I wasn’t running for me. I was running to give back, and it’s been very fulfilling so far,“ Peters said.
Eliza Lin, his current girlfriend, managed the campaign. Overall, Peters had 641 people on the campaign team. They had to reserve auditoriums in order to have their campaign meetings.
“Michael is a genuine, hard-working and humble person,” Lin said. “How positive he is during everything really impresses me, and he really cares about people and will actually talk to people.”
After winning the election, Peters went to work to accomplishing his vision of “Everyone Belongs.”
Peters said that through the President’s Cabinet, a council that is made up of about 40 diverse students, he is able to promote leadership opportunities and reach out to “every corner of campus.”
The cabinet is currently accepting applications for 5-10 new members until Dec. 15.
Peters believes USUSA events have created a more inclusive campus, especially the Aggie Heroes event. Aggie Heroes showcased a variety of stories regarding various challenges that Aggies have faced.
“I firmly believe that stories connect people and that when we share our stories we can make connections and form inclusion,” Peters said.
Peters also serves as the president of the Utah Student Association (USA), where he sits in council with the 12 other student body presidents from other Utah universities. USA organized “United For Utah” where students wore red and stood in solidarity for University of Utah the Friday following the shooting of ChenWei Guo.
USA is also making efforts to improve mental health through the creation of videos and is preparing to present ideas on how to improve mental health on college campuses in front of Utah legislature next semester.
Peters said that out of all the exciting responsibilities he has as student body president, his favorite part of his job is talking to students one-on-one.
Peters will occasionally go to the International Lounge in the TSC and find someone to take to lunch in the Marketplace.
“We’ll just talk, and to hear about their concerns and their joyful moments and to hear about their experience as an Aggie has been really cool for me,” Peters said.
Talking to people isn’t something new to Peters, as he tries to make a new friend everyday. He challenges his fellow Aggies to do the same.
“As we look to promoting inclusion it’s not just something that we want to talk about. We don’t just want to say, ‘Hey, look, USU is an inclusive campus.’ My call to action is to go out and do it,” Peters said. “Everyone wants to be connected with other people. If you didn’t want to meet new people you would have done your degree online, but we’re coming to a campus and we’re making these connections. It’s just some people have a hard time reaching out of their comfort zone.”
Peters challenges students as they sit on on the Aggie Shuttle in the morning or when walking to class to go out of their way to meet someone new. He challenges the student body to do “more than get their name and major” but “to know them on a deeper level, because that will make a huge difference for them as well as for you.”
Another bit of advice that Peter often gives is that if “you want something, set your mind to it and you’ll get it. If you want to get involved do that, if you want good grades you can do it.”
Peters has applied this in all venues of his life and has accomplished a myriad of things, such as running over 20 marathons and learning how to play the accordion. Both of these things help Peters clear his head and make important decisions regarding the student body.
Although the first semester of term is over, Peters hopes to accomplish a lot before the end of next semester. A couple goals he has are to work with administration to improve the food options on campus as well the continued push to advocate for mental health and improve sexual assault prevention.
One thing Peters thinks he won’t be able to accomplish before the end of his administration was his vision to put a giant ‘A’ on the side of a mountain.
“That was one thing that I never announced during the campaign, because I didn’t know if I could do it,” Peters said. “Just Like the ‘U’ at U of U and ‘Y’ at BYU, a vision I have would be to put an ‘A’ on the side of a mountain and have a new tradition where freshman go up and whitewash the A every year.”
Issues with the Bureau of Land Management have prevented Peters from accomplishing this goal. He said it’s something he will continue to push but he doesn’t think he’ll see it this year.
“Maybe next year’s president will be able to do it,” Peters said.
Peters wants to thank everyone who has reached out to someone new this year.
“Keep trying to reach out to one new person everyday and have an amazing rest of the year,” he said.