Shyam Venkatramani is a Fifth-year Politics, Philosophy, and Economics major. He has been one of the many students to thrive in NU’s Co-Op system and has completed three co-ops, two based upon diversity and inclusion, during his time here. But aside from his professional experiences, Venkatraman has also been an important figure in NU Student Life. He has been the Co-Cultural Chair for the South Asian Student Organization (UTSAV), a Co-Chair for the Pan-Asian American Council (PAAC), and a facilitator in Voices for Social Change.
Venkatramani began his involvement in NU’s cultural sphere following a tense experience his first semester in NUin. He was one of the only BIPOC in the program – which meant he was constantly standing up for other BIPOC groups. It was a frustrating time, but it shed light on how Venkatramani wanted to contribute to the community once he was back in Boston.
“I wasn’t planning on being a defender for people. Before NU I didn’t really identify with the South Asian community but when my friends invited me to a meeting I kept attending. When you have a cultural experience that makes you feel back at home it’s very nourishing. I craved more of it, I was missing the connection to something that felt familiar.”
The parallels between the Southeast Asian American experience and other BIPOC groups encouraged Venkatramani to become more involved. At the last minute, he submitted an application for UTSAV’S executive board. During his time as Co-Chair, it was his job to collaborate with other members of the NU cultural community. He often served as a liaison between other organizations and his interest in Diversity and Inclusion grew. He’ll be graduating this winter – and is taking a job as the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Recruiting Program Manager at Hubspot.
This summer combined with his involvement in student life has been essential to this path in his career. In the summer, workers in his co-op realized the importance of Diversity and Inclusion in the workplace. Venkatramani had to work hard to serve an increased demand for his expertise. He noted the following:
“There’s the common misconception that D&I is only for crises and not that we’re doing work all the time. That’s not what we were doing, we were working on a lot of tactical initiatives. But when emergencies happen they take precedence.”
Venkatramani is drawn to this idea of “tactics” and stresses the importance of creating more programs that support diverse candidates in his upcoming job. Although he acknowledges that there is still much work to be done at NU, he’s optimistic for the future being signaled by NU’s newest initiatives:
“I want the staff who regularly and frequently interact with students to be highlighted. I want people who have ideas to be able to speak on them. So many people are willing to make a change but they aren’t given the opportunity to. I want students to realize that we have the power to make collective decisions.”