At every university, it’s no secret that student government leaders help make the campus go ’round. With College Magazine’s new student leadership spotlight, we want to highlight students who are helping to turn their campus into a better space for both their classmates and their community. For Kislay Parashar, a senior at University of Maryland, becoming student body president held special esteem for him as an international student with hopes to inspire lasting change amongst his peers.
Read on for a Q&A with University of Maryland’s Student Body President.
What inspired you to enter this position/run for office?
My inspiration to run for this position came from the peers I worked with in my time as a member of student government. I am an international engineering student, which is a group generally not involved in the student governance. However, this is exactly why it was so much more important to get involved and help the people from my background and the others on campus.
In your own words, how would you describe your role?
The role of student body president for 30,000 students can only be described as a challenging journey. As a student, academics usually take priority for everyone, but in this role serving the student body comes to a very close second to academics in the list of priorities.
What goals would you like to accomplish while in your position?
My top three goals for the year are as follows:
- Increasing shared governance in the university
- Creating new accommodating academic policies
- Affordable student housing.
If you could be remembered for one accomplishment during your time in this position, what would that be?
I would hope it is the fact that I became the first International Student Body President of UMD.
What was the moment you realized your work was making an impact on others?
The first time a group of 200 students showed up to a mixer of international and domestic students. It was the time I felt like I made an impact by making international students find friends and feel more at home in a different country.
What’s something about yourself that might surprise people?
I own way too many pairs of soccer cleats.
It’s easy to assume that those in positions of leadership ‘have it all together’. In your experience, is this a true assumption?
I don’t believe it to be a true assumption that leadership is a way of learning. In my position, I have learned so much from my seniors and juniors. This process has led me to try getting myself more and more accustomed to leadership. People’s assumption regarding this is many times unfair to the leader. As the saying goes, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” Similarly, these leaders are students as well and oftentimes people forget that.
What has been your biggest struggle during your time as both a leader/role model and full-time student?
Time management was my biggest struggle to begin with but I am getting more of a hang of it. The solution is to set a clear list of priorities and manage a calendar with it.
What advice can you give to other students striving to take on a role of leadership?
Listening and being alert for opportunities are the keys to becoming a leader and being respected by your fellow peers.
While we all know that positions of leadership look great on resumes, in what other ways has your position benefitted you?
It has changed my understanding of a professional relationship dramatically. I have a much better understanding as to what is required in a professional setting and how to work collaboratively with other people. The role has also taught me much about professionalism and honesty. These qualities make you an important part of any group and they lead to you being respected by all.
What is your favorite moment from your time in this position?
Ice Cream Day. When we went to Annapolis to lobby for student agenda and fed the state legislators ice cream with it.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully, graduate school in financial engineering!