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Division of Student Affairs

Meet Selma Newbill

Selma NewbillIf you have not heard of her yet, you will now. Student leader Selma Newbill is not just making her way to the top; she is trailblazing it—and this Senior Political Science and English double major wants to take you with her. 

A Carriere (MS) native, Selma is the Founder and Senior Advisor of the Sexual Assault Prevention Ambassadors (SAPA), a student organization at Southern Miss whose goal is to help prevent sexual misconduct on campus and within communities. “SAPA educates students about healthy relationships, consent, the policies and resources that are offered by our University. It also gives ample opportunity to learn about how sexual assault can be actively recognized and prevented—while empowering each of us to be the change that we wish to see in the world.”

Like most organizations, SAPA has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but as a true Golden Eagle, Selma believes the organization has risen to the challenge and become stronger because of it. Consequently, she had to step down as President in August, but passing the reins to her fellow students has given her confidence that the organization can continue in her footsteps. “Our membership has become stronger, our mission has become even more defined and we have a great group of leaders that are committed to taking SAPA to the next level.” 

Selma is also the President of the Black-Eyed Susans Women’s Leadership Honorary, Ambassador of the Honors College Leadership Council and Senior Resident Assistant for Housing and Residence Life— amongst leadership positions in other organizations. Through her exceptional work, Selma has learned the true value of being a student leader. 

“While I love many things about leading others, the process of building up organizations allows me to invest myself in the students that will take the reins when I leave. As I have gotten older, I have witnessed those same students invest themselves in younger students as I had once invested in them—nothing is more rewarding than that.” Selma’s selfless dedication to the community at Southern Miss is nothing less than admirable.

When it comes to success, Selma believes every student should develop the skill of compromisation, both with themselves and with others. “Some students feel they need to do everything under the sun to be successful in college; I know this, because that used to be me. Compromising with others is necessary, especially during a global pandemic, because people have different processes for how they decide to go about specific things. We are all just trying our best and without compromise—everything will fall apart.” Truer words could not have been spoken, especially in these unprecedented times.

After graduation this May, Selma plans to complete a public service fellowship before attending graduate school in pursuit of a master’s degree in Public Policy. She hopes to one day create her own non-profit organization to advocate for sexual assault survivors in areas of the country with limited economic means. Of course, she is not going to forget about SAPA, her proudest accomplishment. “I will be moving away from Mississippi and will not be a student at Southern Miss anymore—so in that aspect, my involvement will not look the same, but that in no way means I am leaving SAPA, especially if I am needed. SAPA is the best thing I have ever done in my life—I will continue to be involved, sending my love and support from a distance.” Always striving to finish what she has started, Selma is dedicated to the mission SAPA set out to complete in 2018—no matter her location. 

Selma enjoys reading, listening to music and “driving aimlessly around Hattiesburg” in her free time. However, her path to the top could be described as anything but aimless. 

Strong, courageous and determined—Selma Newbill is a shining example for all Golden Eagles to follow as we make our way To The Top Together!

Written by Danny Holland
Communications Intern
Division of Student Affairs 
(Date: March 31, 2021)

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