Tony Caravano wrote in his journal when he was a senior in high school one simple sentence that would predict his involvement in student government in college. “I’d like to be the student body president at North Carolina State University,” read a page from his journal.
But Caravano revealed in an interview with NCSU Libraries’ Student Leadership Initiative, a project chronicling campus leaders and their stories from their time at the university, that when he got to NC State, he thought that role might take him away from making actual change for the student body.
So he told himself he wouldn’t run for student body president. “I wanted to impact an individual’s life rather than doing this big thing,” he said.
It didn’t take him long, though, to look for a chance to serve as student body president. In fact, Caravano was elected to the position twice and served as president from 2003-2005.
He talked about what his involvement meant to him, as well as his accomplishments as president in the six interviews featured in the archive. He was the first graduate student to ever serve as student body president, and during his time, he established a traditions committee and Red Terror Transit.
But perhaps his greatest accomplishment was finding a different way to protest tuition increases. “[T]here’s an interesting role as a student body president,” he said. “You understand or come to understand the the innards of this place, the guts of how it operates and works, so I understood the need for additional revenue coming into the campus, but at the time in North Carolina the middle class was just being squeezed.”
So Caravano, who now serves on the board of directors for the Alumni Association, was instrumental in what he calls “the Personal Stories Project,” where he brought real people who would be affected by such policy changes to meetings and let them tell their stories.
“We didn’t do the protests that some of our predecessors had done and the rallies,” he said. “Those things hadn’t yielded different results, so we brought them to actual meetings to talk to the people who were going to make the decisions.”