Hartford USG Fall 2021 Candidate Information

President  Personal Statement 

Andrew “Andy” Larza, Freshman

Throughout my life, I have always wanted to do what I can to better the lives of those around me. I had the honor of serving as Class President for all four years in high school, and in that time, I learned what it takes to advocate for my classmates. I hope that I can advocate for you as USG President of UConn Hartford. For all the good that UConn Hartford brings to students, staff, and faculty, I believe that we can do more. Coming out of this pandemic, we have a unique opportunity to create a new inclusive, collaborative, and diverse community here at Hartford. I know that before the pandemic, there were so many different activities and opportunities for students to get involved in. I don’t just want us to go back to that, I want us to reimagine it. Let’s make this campus a second home where all students can make the best memories of their lives. I believe strongly that students should be more involved in what goes on at UConn Hartford. We all have a place at our campus, and I will do everything I can to make sure you know what opportunities you have to help you succeed and reach your full potential not only as a student but as a person. To reach our full potential as a community, we all need to advocate for what we are passionate about. That means if you see something that you feel needs changing, say something. For those of you who don’t feel comfortable voicing your ideas and or concerns, I will always be there to support and listen to you. While there are many ways that I feel we can reach our full potential as a community, there are three that I think we can improve on. One would be to create more engaging clubs on our campus. The more clubs that we have, the more people will want to join and get to know each other. By electing me, I will always be open to all ideas about clubs that you think will improve the campus. A second way we can reach our potential as a community is by increasing our student outreach within the Hartford community. Whether that be through a semesterly clean up at a local park or neighborhood or getting students to visit the recreational opportunities within the city of Hartford. We have a chance to help out people around us. Lastly, more programming here at the campus. This could be bringing in guest speakers from in and around Hartford to talk about important issues happening that maybe we aren’t aware of. We need more music, more comedy, and more recreational programming on our campus and I will help to see that through. Our time here at UConn Hartford is about meeting new people and discovering ourselves. As USG President, I will work to make sure you all feel welcomed. If you want a president who will listen to you, work with you, and advocate for you, then vote Andy Lanza for USG President.
Vice President 

Karishma Rentia, Senior

As someone who had been a USG member for 3 years, a USG senator for 2 years, the pre-law vice president for 2 years and finally a programming chair for 1 year, I know I’d be a great fit to be a USG Vice President. With the experience I have, I’ve been able to fully see the wants and needs of the UConn Hartford student body. I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside many bright people and it’s one of the reasons I love being part of USG because it has helped me learn and grow as a person. The past couple years have been a very difficult time for everyone, especially those newly transitioning to in person campus life for the first time. For the first time the UConn Hartford halls weren’t filled with life, laughter and the sense of community was gone. With that being said, my goal is to connect the student body with one another through interactive events and by restarting the many clubs we once had on this campus. By doing this I will strongly strive to bring back and replenish that sense of community that our campus once used to have in hopes of building new connections, friendships, and memories for us students here at UConn Hartford to experience. I wiIl, as I vice president, continue to work alongside many of the bright people I have met on this campus to make sure I reach this goal. I will be a vice president that is strongly connected to the students and faculty at UConn Hartford and bring about change that will positively impact our campus. This year and the ones to come call for a dramatic change within us and the campus. With my experience and passion I know I will be able to do my part in helping make sure that exactly that happens here at UConn Hartford.  



Gabriella Courtois. Freshman

Although I have not been involved in student government in the past, since starting at UConn Hartford, I have found that it is something that I would like to pursue. Helping people has always been something that I have been passionate about, and it is my hope that I can help more people here. I’m excited to finally begin my college career and I am interested in participating and helping to make the college experience at UConn Hartford awesome for everyone. As a student in a school that doesn’t offer campus housing, I think it may be difficult to create a sense of community. I would like to help facilitate a more welcoming community here at UConn Hartford where people can get to know one another through different activities and events. I believe that it is especially important for students to have a sense of community coming out of the pandemic. As we know, during the pandemic, students were isolated from their friends and in some cases their families. This was tough on all of us. As we work hard to emerge from the pandemic safely, I think it is important to figure out how to get us all back on track, together as a community. I know some people may be apprehensive about returning to things the way they were so we need to hear from the students and work to determine the best ways to alleviate everyone’s fears. Some things I want to see the campus improve on are more group gatherings, COVID friendly of course. Some examples could be movie nights, game nights, or a picnic. I think this can build a bigger sense of community among the students. I would also suggest holding these early in the day to help bring in a larger group of students because many of our students are commuters who might not want to stay on campus late at night.
Another thing we can improve on is more clubs. This can help engage students more in the campus and maybe discover something that they had no idea existed in our community. This can also help the students interact with each other after being quarantined for so long. In addition, I think we could encourage the administration to hold town hall meetings with students and let them voice their concerns, opinions and ideas on all campus related items. We could hold smaller meetings to ensure that we follow all COVID guidelines. I think this gives students a sense of involvement in the community, and lets them know their ideas and voices are important and being heard. I think that I can bring positive and fresh ideas to USG. We have an opportunity to make UConn Hartford the best that it has been in years. I’m dedicated and excited about my future at UConn Hartford and eager to start making the lives of students at this campus better.

Ananya Sujatha Balaji, Sophomore

I really want to be a part of USG to learn and expose myself to more activities. I was part of the interact club at high school where we volunteered and were part of fundraisers helping kids suffering from cancer, helping when farmers market were in town and so many other fun stuff. I am a joyful person and I love making friends. Aarthi, the treasurer is my very close friend and she has told me a lot of fun stuff about USG and especially how amazing the people are and so I am excited to be a part of this wonderful journey. Like anyone else, I always try to do my 100% in whatever I get involved with. I was a part of the human rights, but unfortunately the club was frozen because we didn’t have enough members and hence this is going to be my first club on campus as a sophomore and I am looking forward to a lot of learning and fun activities and helping the university reach a better place. I will strive hard to never procrastinate my work and will help the other members in case they need my help. Back in India, instead of clubs we had what were called “houses” after the name of great poets and authors which would run events every Thursday like a group dance, group singing, comedy shows, magic shows, fun events, fundraising and a lot more. I was a house captain for consecutive years and captains are chosen based on academic integrity as well as their character like how they are in school, how they respect peers and teachers. I was part of tennis in High school as well which gives me all the more exposure to fundraisers that we have done for tennis as well. I think being a senator would help me learn more about myself and what I am capable of, and it would be extremely a pleasure for me to work towards something that would better my university. The idea of merging with clubs is something Mubera talked to me about, which I feel helps both clubs come up with different ideas and thoughts and hence it would make both the clubs come to a better situation. One idea that I had for USG (something we used in high school) is that we created a google doc and shared it with everyone part of USG and we would share our ideas there. In case of fundraising or volunteer opportunities, we would create a tabular column where anyone willing to take part can fill their name in that table and there would be a minimum hours of work you have to do, your aren’t forced to do any more. Sharing on google doc was the easiest because ideas would pop up now and then for us and we would forget to share on our regular meetings. We felt that extremely useful and on the day of the meeting, we would discuss on how to further enhance or make it better or student friendly because we would have. These are few thoughts and ideas that I wanted to share and I hope to get this position and meet with you also soon.  

Salma Khalil, Sophomore

It is with great pleasure, honor, and privilege that I submit my application to run for and serve on the Undergraduate Student Government as a Senator. My name is Salma Khalil and I am currently a sophomore here at UConn Hartford, majoring in English. During my high school years in North Haven, I never truly fit in, so I always shied away from involving myself with school clubs or organizations. The people around me were so blatantly different, that I almost felt intimidated to take on a leadership role as I assumed no one would connect with me. However, upon my arrival to UConn, my experiences became the total opposite. The vast diversity and advocacy for all groups of people is what encouraged me to try to be the voice for others like me. Creating a campus where each individual feels at home is one of my main focuses because that is something I didn’t have growing up. I aim to spread awareness for all of the struggles any minority group goes through, as well as clear up any misconceptions about them. Before hearing of the opportunity to become a Senator for USG, I began working towards this goal by associating myself with various on-campus student organizations and participating in extracurricular activities such as local youth groups. This aligns perfectly with the USG mission statement which says, “We strive to help student groups reach their fullest potential through new and continuing initiatives, programs and resources. The Undergraduate Student Government aims to foster an inclusive and collaborative community that works together effectively.” I believe, as Senator, along with the help of the entire USG, I will be able to make a much larger impact on the general student body. I strongly believe in the segment of the mission statement regarding fostering an inclusive community that works together effectively. By working together, we will be able to grow as individuals while simultaneously furthering our community growth. I would like to see our organizations collaborate and strive to achieve a mutual goal. One course of action we can take to accomplish the mission of strengthening USG culture and activities is to start food drives and charities for the incoming refugees to CT. Being affiliated with the community around our campus will allow us to come together to benefit society on a grander scale. I look forward to representing the student body at UConn Hartford to the best of my abilities if I were to be elected as one of the Senators.

Andrea Faith V. Ybanez, Sophomore

Chief of Communications 

Armani Parnther, Senior

I am interested in being Chief of Communications of USG because I have been it for the fall 2021 semester and it has been a passion of mine to help the student body and make sure that everything they want done is given to them. The culture of USG is very family oriented, we all get along and communicate well with each other. I am always willing to help and participate in USG activities. I enjoy being a senator as well and helping make a change in what needs to be done on campus.