Picture of Sanjana NaikYear in School): 3rd Year
Hometown: Fremont
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Minor: Technology Management

On-campus leadership roles/positions/organizations:
President of Project RISHI at UC Davis
Board Member - Club Finance Council

Why do you choose to be involved as a student leader?

Project RISHI is an opportunity for undergraduate students to solve relevant, real-world problems with their own skills and intuition. My experience here has taught me that everyone can make a difference, and it is those people who can best take advantage of the resources around them and learn to work effectively in teams that can make the biggest impact, regardless of experience. Project RISHI has connected me to other individuals with differing positions and backgrounds, students and professionals with vital expertise, and the methodology to achieve goals effectively. The memories I have made and the practical skills I have learned in the past three years are invaluable in all aspects of my life, personal and professional. Moreover, I have had the opportunity to share with others the mission and projects of this organization, and have hopefully incited a reason in others to always continue doing work in the realm of social good in our own backyards and abroad.

What have you learned about leadership through your work with others on campus?

From general member to Director of Initiative to President, I have gained the most perspective from experiencing this organization and countless others from top to bottom. Over the past three years I have learned key insights on what motivates individuals, how to lead people, and how to best obtain results that translate into successful projects. As president, my most demanding job, I continue learning how to help a team work together, mostly through mistakes. Through countless board and general meetings, I get to practice how to empower board members to implement change and how set a vision for a project but remind myself to take a step back and see how others take the idea. Arguably the most important, I have learned to stick by my fellow members when they are trying something new or when things do not work out.

What is your most memorable experience at UC Davis?

My most memorable experience at UC Davis was being able to see Hasan Minhaj’s final show for his Homecoming tour. The pride I felt for UC Davis, and seeing one of my favorite comedians and UC Davis alumni come so far, was like no other. Plus, it was a pretty great show, filmed for his Netflix special, and I got seats close to the stage.

What is your favorite UC Davis tradition?
My favorite UC Davis tradition is bike riding on campus and in the city of Davis. It lets students really be independent while doing a little something for the environment as well. Where owning a car may not an option for everyone, for me, riding a bike is the next best thing in terms of having that similar feeling of complete freedom and independence.

What advice would you give to a student thinking about getting involved?

I would advise anyone thinking about getting involved on campus to never believe it’s too late. The opportunities on and off campus are innumerable, so trying anything that sounds even a little bit interesting to you will always be a safe bet. Without spreading yourself too thin, join as many things as possible, just to try them out. Go by yourself or go with a friend, whatever it takes to ultimately expose you to all the different people, projects and perspectives out there.

How does getting involved complement your studies?

Most of the time, getting involved gives me a much-needed break from my studies. It also allows me to use different facets of my brain and pick up social and leadership skills that support my studies as I apply for jobs and internships. Getting involved gets you to take a step back and remember what all the studying is positioning us for and really gives the university experience a bigger purpose. Involvement has led me to meet a diverse faculty and student population that hold unique interests and passions that lead me toward my own. While my major usually has me dealing with hard math and sciences, my experience with student organizations has helped me reflect on my personality and the type of career and position I want to work towards in the tech field.

Future plans?

In the future, I plan to continue building upon and applying my strengths in the fields of business and management. I want to ultimately pursue a master’s that helps me apply those skills in the biotechnology industry I am currently specializing in. Someday, I hope to be involved in a business or social enterprise that provides a product or service that can provide impactful and positive change for a group of people. Along the way, I would like to travel more of the world, visit more countries, and experience daily life there to broaden my perspective on how people survive and strive in their individual communities, circumstances, and environments.

Fun Facts?

I love watching stand-up comedians and enjoy the very important commentary they can provide on society, politics and everything in general.