Undergraduate Programming Board Enriches SESP Experience

Undergraduate Programming Board Enriches SESP Experience

Undergraduate Programming Board Enriches SESP Experience

Mentoring program, community engagement expand in second year

The 12-member SESP Leadership and Programming Board has gained a reputation for serving SESP undergraduate students well by planning events and opportunities that enrich their college experience. Board chair Mira Staykova says, “This programming group promotes exactly the type of environment and community that SESP is so well known for.” 

“We are one of the only schools on campus that has such a well known and used home base. By bringing in academic and professional resources to our students, we can all come together in one space and work on succeeding and growing as a group,” Staykova adds. “In the end, SESP is a family, and I think our main goal is to keep bringing that family together!” 

Mentoring expands
In addition to planning noteworthy events — both professional and lighthearted — the programming board has led the second successful year of a mentoring program with alumni that many have found valuable. The mentoring program, led by Staykova, matches current undergraduates with alumni to open up learning opportunities.

The program provides “multiple streams of mentorship,” board member Sanchita Kanthadai notes, because it connects underclassmen with a junior or senior as well as a recent alumnus working in the field they’re interested in. “Underclassmen get to learn about Northwestern and how to make use of SESP. They also get to talk to an alum and do career research. … We get a lot of alumni who are interested and want to be involved.”

The board’s committees offer opportunities for students in three areas: community engagement, professional opportunities and academics. The board’s community engagement chair is Imani Wilson, and the academic chair is Osbeyda Navarette.

Community and academic engagement
A new type of community engagement event launched this year is the Professor Meet and Greet, which brings a SESP faculty member together with students for informal conversation and, of course, food. “Our idea was to meet the professors and get to know the professors outside of class and about their research,” board member Alex Tom explains.

Academic opportunities are highlighted at events such as information sessions about the Integrated Marketing Communications certificate and the Business Institutions Program. At a yearly Study Abroad session, students talk about their experiences, and at pre-registration pizza party every quarter students get advice about courses.

Social events that the board plans center on promoting strong connections and an upbeat environment at SESP. Staykova says, “Our community events have had great attendance, and the smiles on students' faces when they see donuts or bagels is priceless. Also, our quarterly pre-registration pizza dinner is well renowned for ensuring SESP undergrads leave with full stomachs and great class schedules!”

Enriching SESP experience

According Tom, who was one of the original board members, SESP wanted a group focused on improving the undergraduate experience. “We developed what the board should be and where board could have most impact,” she notes. “We get a lot of positive feedback.”

SESP assistant dean Susan Olson says of the board, "We wanted to get student input on events and programs that would be helpful and meaningful to undergraduate students, so I like how the board has social, professional and academic committees. The students have done a really nice job of planning new and innovative events and continuing the signature events."

This spring, the board is seeking new volunteers for the board to continue through next year, and an online application is available for interested students. “We are looking to get some fresh faces and innovative ideas on the board!” Staykova says.

Kanthadai, who transferred to SESP, says, “I thought the board was a way to get involved more and give back.”

Photo (clockwise from left): SESP Leadership and Programming Board members Osbeyda Navarrete, Weronika Wasilewski, Alex Tom, Sanchita Kanthadai, Benjamin Jackson and chair Mira Staykova. Not pictured: Sunny Han, Matthew Harris, Ian Pappas, Yair Sakols, Zane Waxman and Imani Wilson.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 5/24/16