Saisha Adhikari immigrated to the United States at a young age. She said she grew up trying to balance learning the American culture without losing her Nepalese culture.
As Association of Students of the University of Nebraska external vice president-elect, these experiences now motivate Adhikari, a junior biological sciences and psychology double major, to continue making the University of Nebraska-Lincoln a more inclusive campus.
“We must ensure that all places are welcoming to people with differing backgrounds, while allowing them to embrace their roots,” she said. “My experiences only strengthen my motivation and dedication to continue to be a voice and an ally for those who need it the most.”
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln student body elected Adhikari as the new external vice president of ASUN on Wednesday, along with the other members of her party, Envision, in their respective roles. As external vice president, Adhikari wants to increase inclusivity and make campus a more welcoming environment for everyone.
Adhikari said she was first exposed to ASUN her freshman year through the Freshman Campus Leadership Associates, a group of 20 freshmen learning about leadership and ASUN.
“I thought that all of that was so neat, that once I got to the university I could already start making my impact here,” she said.
Since then, she said ASUN has continued to help her grow as a leader.
“I’m learning that there are so many opportunities at UNL and that every student has the potential to thrive,” she said. “Seeing ASUN, being a liaison is really, really powerful and impactful for students.”
Even though Adhikari was progressing with her goals like inclusivity in her previous ASUN roles, she said being external vice president will allow her to continue those initiatives.
“I wanted to keep moving forward with ASUN, so this was a perfect way to do so and really carry on my passions and everything I’ve been working hard for,” she said. “I didn’t want to just stop; I wanted to keep expanding, and EVP was the role for that.”
Adhikari was previously the ASUN Diversity and Inclusion Committee chair and a senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. She said she hopes to continue increasing inclusivity at UNL in her new position.
“I want to ensure that each and every student on campus has a safe space and feels welcomed.”
She said the student retention rate at UNL is lowest among minorities, which is why she believes it is essential to give students resources for success.
“I also want to help bridge the gap between international and domestic students, as I am an immigrant and aware of the cultural boundaries and differences that are placed,” she said.
She said one way she plans to achieve this goal is through inclusivity brunches that bring together different recognized student organizations, like one she helped plan earlier in the semester.
“I got this idea because I realized there were so many niches on campus and cliques — which, I like that people have that option to have their safe space, but I think this is causing further isolation, and people are just sticking within the group,” she said. “The only way we can learn from each other is if we communicate with different people, not just within our own groups.”
Another goal Adhikari has is to work on transparency between ASUN and the student body. She said she wants to increase face-to-face contact between ASUN and students.
“I feel like, every year, students don’t know what ASUN is, and we try to outreach, but it never feels like it's enough,” she said. “I think the best way to do it is … direct contact, like going to RSO meetings in the fall and saying, ‘Hey, ASUN is this. Applications are open now. Please apply.’”
Despite the campus shutdown due to coronavirus, Adhikari said she plans to pursue her goals as external vice president.
“With the virus, student safety is priority,” she said. “None of us are experts on this … However, we will help administration [in] making sure students are well communicated and know what’s going on campus.”
Laura Derowitsch, a sophomore software engineering major and Adhikari’s little sister in their sorority Chi Omega, said she sees Adhikari as a role model.
“Ever since we met, she is just somebody I’ve looked up to,” Derowitsch said. “Somebody who is an example of someone who is a leader, both among her peers as well as the involvement she was in.”
Derowitsch said she has seen Adhikari’s dedication to being a leader grow over the years, and the passion and intelligence Adhikari displays makes her a great leader.
“She has figured out what has made her most excited and what she is passionate about and really goes after that. Anything she does she is doing because she wants to,” Derowitsch said.
With Derowitsch and the student body’s support behind her, Adhikari said she is excited to work with the rest of ASUN to continue improving campus.
“I’m very pumped to see what our students are going to do, our senators, our elected committee members. I hope this creates excitement in the student body,” she said. “I’m just super pumped. I’m ready to get to work.”