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May 14, 2017

Student Leader Profile: University Programming Council Executive Director Bianca Surjawan.

Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

The Daily Collegian is running a weekly series this semester which profiles student leaders on campus and highlights their impact on the community. If you wish to nominate someone you feel is making a significant impact on campus, please email your suggestion to news@dailycollegian.com.

Bianca Surjawan is a senior design thinking in science and technology major, double minoring in information technology and microbiology. She is going on two years as the executive director of the University Programming Council, and works as a media developer and photographer for Five Colleges, Inc. Surjawan also has worked as a resident assistant and New Students Orientation leader during her time on campus, while also serving as a member of the Pre-Dental Society and Student Experience Master Plan Steering Committee. She sat down with the Daily Collegian to discuss the mark she has made during her four years on campus, namely with UPC.

How did you get involved with the University Programming Council?

I joined my freshman year, and I was just a general body member. From there, my sophomore year, I applied and became an event coordinator. And then my junior year, we have to go through elections and I was elected as president for my junior year. And then no one ran for president again, so I just decided to take on the position again for my senior year.

What kind of activities and events do you coordinate?

We do the spring concert which is an annual thing. We usually have two to three artists every year, it happens in April. And we pretty much do all the late night movies that people see that happen in the Cape Cod lounge in the Student Union. And then we also coordinate  the homecoming week, the homecoming parade, homecoming speaker, that’s us. We do the Big Chill, which is the last day of classes in the spring semester, where we do a bunch of giveaways and we have performers come. There’s just so much. We also do mini-concerts, and we have a concert coming up in December which we haven’t marketed yet. We will in the next couple weeks.

How are you able to organize all these events?

There’s a board of five people, that’s the executive board, and then we have about 15 event coordinators and those event coordinators have specific events that they have to run. And that’s divided by category. We have a speakers category and a late-night programming category. We also have performing arts, concerts, special events and then social.

Is it difficult overseeing all those coordinators?

It’s just challenging to balance it with being a full-time student. That’s why we have an executive board of five people, because then the responsibilities are spread out. I think as executive director my primary responsibility is a liaison between administration, our executive board, our event coordinator board and then our general membership. And thankfully I have a really great team, so it is difficult but we manage.

What’s been the most rewarding part of working with UPC?

The most rewarding part is planning an event and then going to the event and seeing everything unfold and seeing students come out, and just hearing students saying, “Wow this is so cool,” and, “I didn’t know that students did this.” That’s really rewarding.

And how did you also get involved with the Five Colleges? What do you do there?

I currently hold a position with Five Colleges Incorporated, it’s a new position. I pretty much just go to a bunch of events around the Five Colleges and cover them. I handle the Instagram account, which we just started last week, and I also handle the Facebook page in terms of posting about events and keeping everyone up to date.

Stefan Geller can be reached at stefangeller@umass.edu.

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