Sea Lion Spotlight of the Week: Meet Colby Douglas

ASB director of student relations and next year’s ASB president, Colby Douglas. Photo courtesy of Douglas.

As Bob Brower, PLNU’s president for 27 years retires, and Jake Gilbertson, dean of students for 16 years moves to Fresno Pacific University, there is a feeling of anticipation for who is to fill their shoes. Colby Douglas, a third-year business management/entrepreneurship major, is to be the first Associated Student Body (ASB) president to work with this to-be-determined university president and dean of students to bridge the gap between them and PLNU’s student population. 

Douglas met with Brower and sought advice on how to best lead this new era at PLNU. The biggest takeaway, according to Douglas, is the prioritization of bringing the student population and new president together. 

To do so, the ASB board has a plan in the works on hosting some sort of beginning-of-the-year bash, similar to the traditional Bobby B’s Birthday Bash, to honor the new president, according to Douglas.

Douglas’ major in business has given him the necessary communication and leadership skills that aid him in his ASB work, he said. 

Both of his parents are in the business field, which inspired him to study business management. His father, Mark, owns a software company and his mom Natalie, who is now retired, was a regional sales manager at Ole Mexican Food.

Colby Douglas and Nathan Shoup with PLNU president Bob Brower at the “Bobby B’s Bye-Bye Bash” on April 13, 2024. 

His parents divorced when he was six years old, but they both have played influential roles in his life. 

“He’s [Douglas’ dad] a great spiritual leader. The way he lets his faith guide every aspect of his life is really admirable,” Douglas said. “And being a mother leading through a divorce, she was steadfast and strong through all of it and always put us [him and his siblings] first. That’s a major factor in how we grew up the way we did.”

His older brother, Trace, and older sister, Paisley have also been inspirations in his life, teaching him how to learn from his mistakes, he said. 

Born and raised in Orange County, Douglas’ family moved to New Braunfels, Texas three months before he graduated from Crean Lutheran High School. To finish out the year, he lived with a friend before reuniting with them over the summer.

As Douglas began his higher education search during high school, he considered schools including Colorado Christian, Colorado State and Texas State, before deciding to commit to PLNU after visiting the campus and praying about it, he said. 

“This place is about more than just education,” Douglas said. “It’s about shaping who you are as a person and finding your identity.” 

Douglas plans to attend law school when he graduates from PLNU. He said his mom inspired him to consider law and become an attorney. He’s considering Chapman, Texas A&M and St. Mary’s School of Law. 

Douglas said playing sports in high school made him a “natural born leader.” He knew he wanted to get involved in leadership in college, so he became an Alpha Group leader during his second year at PLNU.

Alpha Groups are student leaders assigned to first-year residence halls to help with the transition to college and foster relationships in things such as “spiritual-led reflections [and] hall bonding activities,” according to the PLNU site.

That same school year, he met the ASB vice president at the time and current president, Nathan Shoup, a fourth-year applied health major, who inspired him to join ASB. 

Douglas ended up running for director of student relations and won.

He wanted to run for student relations because he “saw an opportunity for the growth of clubs,” he said. “That was the area I felt God was putting me in.”

According to Shoup, he and Douglas met in PLNU’s cafeteria and had lunch together where they bonded over ASB.

According to Shoup, he and Douglas didn’t know each other very well but Douglas told him that he admired the work he was doing for ASB.

“Ever since then, our relationship’s been mutual and encouraging where we both push each other to grow more,” Shoup said.

As Shoup is graduating from PLNU this year and has worked with Douglas on the ASB board, he now gets to watch him follow in his steps as the next ASB president. 

“Colby is tenacious,” Shoup said. “He has the heartwarming side where although you may have a differing opinion, he’s going to welcome you in and promote a community that comes from his heart and that’s love.”

Douglas said this year serving in ASB has been “the most transformative” experience in his life personally and spiritually.

At the end of his second year, he and the ASB board attended the Nazarene Student Leadership Conference, where God put the “vision on [his] heart of disagreeing agreeably,” Douglas said. 

One of his aspirations as president is to acknowledge the diversity of opinions among the student body and create an environment of unity and understanding. 

“[I want to] be a pathway of communication to the student body and have God work through me,” Douglas said. “If you don’t have a strong root in faith and spiritual life, then I think your leadership could be misguided.”

To manage the time it takes to attend as many club meetings as possible as director of student relations, Douglas said he owes it all to Google Calendar. 

“Learning to say ‘no’ to things that I don’t feel like I have the capacity for,” Douglas said, has been one of the ways he’s been able to balance his busy schedule. 

In his free time, Douglas enjoys working out at EOS Fitness, playing the guitar, listening to Zach Bryan’s music, surfing and spending time with friends.

One of Douglas’ biggest influences is the director of community life and ASB adviser, Scott McGowan, who has worked with him for about a year now.

“I’m so grateful that Colby’s in this role next year,” McGowan said. “[He] absolutely has that ability to listen and understand well while also having opinions, making him the exact kind of leader that can speak truth to power.”

A piece of advice Douglas would give to a student who’s trying to lead by example is to pray and seek a relationship with God.

“That [a relationship with God] is the foundation for refining [the busyness of life],” Douglas said. “Having that Holy Spirit conscious in you will help you lead by example.”