My Student Leader Journey

- The Experience, Samirah Jaigirdar '22 

It’s hard to believe I am a senior at Conn. I still remember my first few days here like it was yesterday. I arrived at night, geared up for international student orientation the next day. I had never actually been to campus prior to my arrival, so I didn’t really know where things were except my residence hall and the dining hall. So when my schedule told me to go to Tempel Green for ice-breakers and the start of Odyssey, I was quite lost. I meandered around trying to find Tempel Green until a very kind person pointed out that I was actually walking around it. Mortified and embarrassed, I remember uttering a thank you and running away. This was pretty much me the entire orientation.

One particular part of orientation that stuck out to me was a speech by Jamila Ezbidi ’19, president of the Student Government Association (SGA). I remember Jamila being eloquent and so impressive. She inspired me to want to call Conn home the way she did and I took her advice of challenging myself to heart. At that time, I could not imagine what being a student leader was like and I definitely did not imagine myself being a part of SGA at any point.

I got involved in SGA accidentally. In the spring semester of my sophomore year, before the pandemic started, the SGA President at that time asked me to fill in for the Presidential Associate position for a couple of weeks. The Presidential Associate is on the SGA Executive Board and is in charge of maintaining accurate SGA records throughout the academic year. I agreed nonchalantly, thinking it was a temporary position. But then the actual Presidential Associate could not continue with SGA anymore due to a work conflict and I was asked to stay. I agreed although I was unsure how to juggle my time commitments between Honor Council and SGA. I did not have much time to ponder. A few weeks later the pandemic started, Conn went remote, and I flew back home to Bangladesh.

Being a student leader, especially during a global pandemic, from the other side of the world is weird. I started sitting in on the Covid-19 committee at 1:30 a.m. Bangladesh time. Although I was navigating my academics and co-curricular activities remotely, I came to enjoy the time I spent on SGA. Hence, I decided to continue by running for SGA Chief of Communications in my junior year. And finally, I ran and won the election to be SGA President my senior year.

Although I am not the same girl who spent her orientation week getting lost, I still think about Jamila’s words as I navigate SGA in my senior year. And I was looking forward to giving my own speech during Orientation this year. Unfortunately, I contracted Covid-19 on my way back to Conn from Bangladesh and was in isolation. As I could not be there, the Vice-President of SGA, Emmanuella Aspras ’22, had to deliver a speech in my stead. As I watched Emmanuella deliver a wonderful speech, my disappointment melted away. Three years ago, I was inspired by an amazing student leader and that day I saw 500 first-years be inspired by another amazing student leader.