The importance of being involved!
On March 3, Anuj Khasgiwala sat in the Sunburst Lounge of the Taggart Student Center and listened as the 2017-2018 Utah State University Student Association (USUSA) elected officials were announced.
He sat as the college senators for all eight of USU’s colleges were announced, until finally, Ty Aller
came to the podium to announce the 2017-2018 Graduate Studies Senator. Khasgiwala listened as Aller struggled to open the envelope containing the voting results. Then, he heard his name: Anuj Khasgiwala.
A native from Indore, India, Khasgiwala ran for the Graduate Studies Senator position with hopes to fix problems and enact change.
“Me, being a graduate student, I have seen a lot of issues,” Khasgiwala said.
Among these issues are student debt, degree programs not offering enough interesting courses for their students and the mental health of all students, but particularly international students.
“Most of the graduate students at USU are international students,” Khasgiwala said. “They’re from China, Korea, India or Saudi Arabia.”
Khasgiwala noted how being so far from home can have a negative impact on one’s emotional or mental health.
“I feel sad sometimes, not being near my family,” Khasgiwala said. “I usually talk to them daily.”
But not all international students are able to talk with their families on a regular basis, and Khasgiwala said it’s important for students to get involved and find peers in the Logan community. When Khasgiwala came to Utah State, he only knew one person here. Having a desire to become more acclimated to Logan and Utah State, he worked to expand his network.
He joined the Indian Student Association, the International Student Council and he decided to run for USUSA.
As he campaigned for the Graduate Studies Senator position, however, Khasgiwala saw how many graduate students are not involved in things outside their lab and do not know many students outside their department.
Former Presidential Doctoral Research Fellow, Troy Munro, also noted this in an interview conducted last year.
“Graduate students have a tendency to just stay in their lab or in their department, if they even go beyond their lab,” Munro said. “And there’s a problem with that because you don’t get to see what other people are working on and what matters. You also don’t see that other people are going through the same things you are, even if it doesn’t seem like it.”
For Khasgiwala, it’s the friendships he’s made that have helped him enjoy his time at Utah State.
“Connections are the best thing to have in any country,” Khasgiwala said.
More than a coping mechanism for being so far from home, Khasgiwala pointed out that associations with your peers can help you throughout your life.
“If I tried to find a job,” Khasgiwala said. “It would be more difficult if I don’t have a network of people I could turn to for referrals.”
As Graduate Studies Senator, Khasgiwala wants to increase graduate student involvement in activities and help everyone find their place at USU.
“Graduate students are managing lots of things other than their studies and grades,” Khasgiwala said. “It can be difficult not to spend all of their time cooking, studying or worrying about grades, but it’s important for students to meet each other.”