Leader of the pack Rohan Maheshwari graduates from FDU and SGA
Rohan Maheshwari and members of the FDU community show off their pride at Spirit Day in October 2013. More than 20 student groups and a host of University offices contributed to the Metropolitan Campus celebration, spearheaded by the Student Government Association. (Photos courtesy of Rohan Maheshwari)By Kenna Caprio
Rohan Maheshwari is Mr. FDU. The 21-year-old computer science major arrived at Fairleigh Dickinson University from Mumbai, India and almost immediately immersed himself in the Metropolitan Campus culture.
Involvement in the Student Government Association (SGA), Sands of Time, the International Student Association, the Crew Club (rowing), the University Honors Program and serving as a teaching assistant, resident assistant, orientation leader and tutor, left Maheshwari with little time for sleep.
His first exposure to SGA — the group that ultimately became his signature FDU passion — came as Maheshwari, an amateur photographer, documented the 2011 SGA gala. He started attending meetings, rising through the membership ranks to become treasurer his junior year and president his senior year.
“This year the SGA focused more on public relations,” he says. “We’ve been the student voice more than 55 years, but there are still a lot of students who don’t know about the association. We want to empower students to know that there’s a student body serving just them,” he says.
At the Spirit Day festivities in October 2013, the SGA gave away “hundreds” of burgundy and blue T-shirts. Maheshwari says he sees more students wearing FDU gear on campus as a result. Approximately 20 student organizations participated.
“I wanted to celebrate the school spirit here. There are a lot of people who have school spirit, but it’s kind of scattered all around campus. We had competitions and raffles, a 25% off sale at the bookstore, face painting. We want to make the event an FDU tradition,” he says.
The ramping up of school spirit and student engagement continued with a leadership trip to United States Military Academy at West Point and a campus celebration of the United Nations’ International Day of Happiness.
More than 150 students posted on the happiness wall erected at the Student Union Building this spring, sharing moments of joy. So many members of the FDU community contributed, “we had to take some notes off to make room,” Maheshwari says. People wore orange to celebrate happiness day, received stickers and giveaways, and posted positive content on social media using the hashtag #happyfdu.
“I came here and FDU transformed me. Being in a pressure-cooker has helped me fulfill my potential,” he says. Sitting in on Board of Trustees meetings and running SGA discussions allowed Maheshwari to tap into a whole new skill set.
Having University President Sheldon Drucker’s attend an SGA meeting was a monumental moment for Maheshwari. Students asked Drucker about strengthening academic programs and financial aid. “He’s working on making the school more affordable. We spoke to him about the new Student Union Building, which is part of the strategic planning. It was a very good exchange because students really got to interact with him.”
Maheshwari passed the baton to the new SGA president, David Gaylord, at the group’s gala on Thursday, May 1.
At University Honors Program Research Day, Maheshwari presents his thesis on krdts, a new social media platform that he built, and which emphasizes acts of kindness.
A bittersweet moment, he says, but one that paves the way for his path forward: a job at Amazon, Google or Bloomberg, maybe; graduate school at FDU, likely; and a commitment to his social network start-up, krdts.com, definitely.
“It’s a platform of appreciation,” he says. With mentorship from Zong Chen, associate professor of computer sciences and engineering, Maheshwari learned new technologies and built the platform, which recognizes and rewards acts of kindness. Presenting his honors thesis on krdts felt like a crowning achievement, he adds.
Krdts celebrates what Maheshwari already proved during his undergraduate education: do good deeds and creative positive change.