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Chico State

Passion Drives Propensity to Do It All: Determined and dedicated, Nick Howell balances numerous demanding priorities

Nick Howell speaks in front of several students.
Jason Halley / University Photographer

Nicholas Howell facilitates a leadership certificate.

When Nick Howell begins listing his majors (two), minors (two plus a paralegal certificate), and activities he’s involved in across campus (too many to list on both hands), it’s easy to forget something, simply because the list is so long.

When asked how he manages to do it all, the graduating senior says it just comes down to passion.

“The most difficult part is time management, but everything I do is because I love doing it,” he said. “I love going to class every day, and being part of the organizations. It’s not just a club—they are my support system, my family away from home. It’s something I’m happy to wake up to.”

When Howell visited the Chico State campus in spring 2012, he felt immediately comfortable in its unique and welcoming community.

“It just felt like home,” he said. “Walking around the creek and the brick buildings, and talking to the students here—how happy they were here and how passionate they were about the community—it just felt like the right place to go.”

Growing up in Davis, Howell was no stranger to college towns but he wasn’t considering Chico as a prospective campus, even though he had visited family in the area and knew of the University.  

“Actually about five minutes before the CSU deadline to apply, I saw the list and at the last moment just clicked on Chico State as a half-thought,” he said. “I then ended up touring it and loved it right away.”

By the next fall, Howell was on campus and tapping into every opportunity that arose—starting with the Chico State Water Ski Team, where he quickly became president and later its treasurer.

“It gave me that support system during my freshman year, which was huge for getting involved and feeling at home on a college campus,” he said. “You’re completely removed from your previous life almost, and they were definitely like a family to me. They really pushed me to push myself.”

He established grand plans for his studies, too.

Originally planning to double-major in political science and anthropology, Howell took a project management class after getting involved with Delta Sigma Pi, an international coed professional business fraternity on campus. Captivated in a way anthropology never quite inspired, he felt the right choice was to pursue a second major in business administration with an option in project management.

But a double major in business administration and political science was not enough. He tacked on two minors, one in ethics, justice, and policy studies and another in photographic studies, spending upwards of 12 hours a day on campus.

“Typically, someone with so much going on would be overwhelmed and not be able to devote necessary attention to these competing priorities,” said Kristin Minetti, a lecturer in marketing and management development. “However Nicholas has excellent time management and leadership abilities and is a committed and successful leader in all that he does. When speaking to his peers about him, they have nothing but awe and good things to say.”

Nick Howell sits in an audience and listens intently.
Howell says one of his college highlights was being elected director for legislative affairs in student government, representing Chico State as part of the California State Student Association.

Meanwhile, he continued expanding his student organization involvement, including serving as outreach director for the Pre-Law Society, president of the political science honor society Pi Sigma Alpha, president and member of Delta Sigma Pi, as a legal intern with the Community Legal Information Center and, most currently, as a member of Net Impact, an international nonprofit organization that focuses on sustainable business.

“Many of the student organizations I’ve gotten involved with weren’t something I planned out, I just saw the opportunity and took it. It looked fun, and I met a great group of people that really pushed me to become a leader and get involved,” he said.

He could not resist sharing that enjoyment with other students. He encouraged others to get involved in the Wildcat Leadership Institute, where he serves as the outreach and program coordinator, and also worked as an involvement coordinator at Chico State’s Student Life and Leadership. 

A former recipient of the Lt. Robert Merton Rawlins Merit Award herself, Minetti successfully nominated Howell for the University’s most prestigious scholarship this year in recognition of his significant leadership, extensive extracurricular activities, and scholarship with a rigorous course load that averaged 21 units a semester.

“Nicholas is an incredible individual who far exceeds anyone else I have met in his ability to successfully manage multiple priorities,” she said. “I have never met a student as motivated and driven as he is.”

One of his college highlights was being elected director for legislative affairs in student government, traveling throughout the CSU system and representing Chico State as part of the California State Student Association, which only affirmed his decision that Chico State had been the right choice.

“I used to travel around a lot and see other campuses, and there just wasn’t as much of that campus pride as Chico has,” he said. “It’s not always outward, but when you talk to people from Chico State you can tell it really means a lot to them.”

As the spring semester comes to a close and graduation ensues, Howell is job hunting in the Bay Area but plans to continue his work in higher education after getting more project management experience. His ultimate goal is to return to school for a master’s in business and a juris doctorate.

“I’d love to work in higher education ultimately, I love the CSU system and I’m passionate about giving back to the community and helping students. That’s my greatest accomplishment at Chico State,” he said. “There are so many open doors. Don’t doubt yourself.”