Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Leadership lived: International student founds student organization aimed at fighting discrimination

Suparna Banerjee says she’s glad she came to the United States to earn her master’s degree in computer science at the University of Illinois Springfield. The Kolkata, India native has only been on campus for a short amount of time, but is already making a difference.

Banerjee recently founded a new student organization on campus called the Hostility Elimination Liaison Program (HELP). The program aims to address discrimination and hate against minorities based on their social and political identities.

“What we expect from HELP is that we can find a beautiful concoction of people from all over the world who can come, communicate, talk, and know each other and make this society, this community, a better place for everybody,” said Banerjee.

Banerjee says she feels empowered by faculty, staff and fellow students at UIS to speak her mind and to stand up for what she believes is right.

“UIS has given me a platform to showcase all of the things that I stand for, all of the things that I believe in,” she said. “They gave me a chance to put my foot forward and let me pursue the things that I want to do later in life.”

On campus, Banerjee also serves as an event organizer for the International Student Association and works at the Office of International Student Services. She is the traditions coordinator for the Student Activities Committee where her job is to plan one of the campuses biggest events.

“I get to plan Springfest, which is a fun thing,” she said. “It’s probably the biggest event on campus. It’s a week-long program with a lot of different activities, involving almost the entire student body, so it’s huge and I love doing that. I love planning events. I love bringing people together.”

Banerjee says she chose the University of Illinois Springfield for the high-quality academic programs and the student experience.

“I chose UIS because of the size of the community here,” she said. “It is small and it’s not overwhelming for international students and it gives you a chance to know people on a one-on-one basis.”

Banerjee is still deciding what she wants to do following graduation from UIS, but says she feels well prepared thanks to her UIS education.

“I would totally say that UIS is an amazing place for international students,” she said. “The professors here are amazing. They take very, very good care of international students.”

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