Leaders of Today

By Archana Jeyaram, Boston University

Photo credit: Rohin Banerji

Why SASE? What can I get out of SASE? What can SASE do for me?

As colleges and universities across the country begin, student activities fairs are full of the hustle and bustle of excited and hopeful students looking around to find where they could fit in for the next four years. At Boston University, SASE is one of these organizations. The blue-clad BU SASE executive board enthusiastically reaches out to students to pitch “Why SASE”. We talk to many prospective students, encouraging them to give us some of their time. Many students will forget about us after the next couple of student organizations they talk to, but some will walk away struck by the personal connection made and come back — to the meetings, the events, and the conferences. I was one of those students and here I am telling you “Why SASE Boston University.”

When most people are first introduced to the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers, they take it for what the title literally conveys to them: a group of Asian-heritage people pursuing science and/or engineering. This is true to some extent, but SASE is much more than that — can do much more than that.

From my past four years involved with SASE and in particular the Boston University executive board, I have seen what SASE can do for young people. I joined the executive board my freshman year as the freshman representative and went on to be the public relations chair, secretary, and now president. Our executive board sets up young students in STEM to grow in their fields and progress as unique leaders. Our class representatives, like me, have stayed on the executive board and moved up to hold core office positions. Our past leaders have gone on to lead the Boston Professional chapter, join the national collegiate leadership team, and serve as national volunteers.

Why has BU SASE been so successful in developing great leaders?

Having been heavily involved in the inner-workings of BU SASE for the past four years, I have seen our chapter grow and evolve each year. As I enter the final semester of my senior year and near the end of my BU SASE journey, I can tell you why.

BU SASE places a strong emphasis on its underclassmen.

Students in STEM often focus on just academics when entering college. But as early as freshman year, SASE provides students with the opportunity to work on their leadership and develop professional skills. We have a large executive board — this year our team is made up of seventeen individuals. Each person plays a valuable role in our organization. Everyone gets experience in planning events, talking with corporate representatives, writing emails, and more. By taking an integral part of fast-paced organization, each of our executive board members become more confident and build skills through application. Approximately half of our current e-board is underclassmen and the most active general members are freshmen and sophomore students. This year, we have even implemented “leads” for events so that their titles do not have to limit what they can do. Underclassmen and upperclassmen alike have the chance to plan and execute events of varying scope. Our e-board meetings are also “open” so that anyone can sit in and learn how we run our organization.

Getting directly involved in the hard work is one thing, but without a strong support system, even the best of us can feel lost and overwhelmed.

Our mentorship program helps in setting up young students for success during the next four years and beyond. We have re-worked this program over the years to make it what it is today. The program groups upperclassmen mentors with underclassmen mentees. The upperclassmen-underclassmen pairs are grouped again into a “pod.” These pods form a support system for the underclassmen with peers and mentors. Many of the underclassmen who have taken advantage of our mentorship program are now on the executive board, working alongside their mentors. The familial environment keeps people coming back.

I now have mentors across the country who I know I can reach out to about anything from interview tips to dinner recipes. I now have the confidence to present in front of a crowd of hundreds of people. I now have the organizational skills to manage projects. I now know how to be an effective leader.

During my time with BU SASE, we have been recognized as “Overall Strongest Chapter” two years in a row and now “Overall Strongest Chapter — Honorable Mention.” There are many reasons for our success, including our evolving goals, emphasis on community, and ambitious team. But for me, it is the legacy of leaders we are developing that sets us apart.

So, what can one expect to get out of SASE?

SASE does not teach skills to be used for another time. You do not have to wait to be a leader. There are many opportunities available right now to be a leader every day. Sure, SASE may be grooming the leaders of tomorrow, but why wait? These are the leaders of today. We are the leaders of today.

SASE BU Chapter was awarded the 2016 Honorable Mention Overall Strongest Chapter award at the 2016 SASE National Conference in Dallas, TX.

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