Fall 2018

Giving students a voice

Photography by Liz Banfield

What’s in Simran Mishra’s backpack? “My notebook,” says the University of Minnesota senior who is studying finance at the Carlson School of  Management. 

As president of the Minnesota Student Association (MSA), the U’s undergraduate student government, Mishra attends meetings. Lots of meetings. Depending on the day, she might have appointments with other student leaders, U of M officials, or members of the community. Her notebook is filled with insights and ideas from these interactions, all of which help her answer the question that’s always on her mind: “What am I doing for students today?”

It’s a question that has many answers. Mishra’s goals include making the U more welcoming for minority students, combating sexual misconduct, encouraging student civic engagement, and expanding sustainability efforts on campus. Developing new policies and programs is hard work, she admits, but a simple “thank you” from a fellow student makes the long hours worth it. “It’s why I do this—to give students a voice,” she says.

Having a voice is especially important to Mishra, who was born in India and immigrated to Minnesota as a child. She remembers feeling out of place until fellow students at her elementary school made her feel welcome. Now, she’s hoping to return the favor. “This feels like a way for me to give back,” she says.

Mishra, who hopes to pursue a career in consulting, has received multiple scholarships during her time at the U. Without that support, she says, she might not be MSA president or the person she is today. 

“It’s allowed me to become my best self—to become the student leader that I knew I could be,” she says.