Meet Your Undergraduate SGA Leaders
Georgia Tech has a long history of stellar student leaders. This year, the undergraduate Student Government Association (SGA) leaders are no exception. One was inspired to join SGA by a University of Georgia student. The other was a robotics and wrestling champion in high school.
Sujay Peramanu, a fourth-year industrial engineering major, and Richard Wang, a fourth-year computer science major, were elected by their peers last spring as president and executive vice president of undergraduate SGA. They’ve been at it for a few months already, and with SGA, academics, and other activities, they’re staying busy.
While still in high school, Peramanu had already begun thinking about collegiate involvement in SGA. The summer before his senior year, Peramanu participated in the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program, where he received some meaningful advice from his resident advisor, who just so happened to be the SGA president at the University of Georgia.
“After learning how SGA worked, I was naturally drawn to it and to the advocacy aspect of the role,” he said. He was further inspired by hearing then-Georgia Tech SGA President Dillon Roseen speak at FASET his freshman year.
Upon his arrival at Tech, Peramanu joined FreShGA, the freshman leadership organization. And, he said, he kept the “dream of being SGA president in the back of my mind.” Last year’s SGA president, fifth-year industrial engineering student Nagela Nukuna, invited him to be part of her cabinet as the vice president of campus services, and that experience cemented Peramanu’s determination to run for SGA president.
“Something that drives me is the desire to leave a lasting impact at Georgia Tech,” he said.
What are some qualities of good leaders?
First and foremost is listening. Here’s a Game of Thrones reference: Jon Snow, who is a main character and a member of the Night’s Watch, is a natural-born leader. He was able to rally troops around him, but he wasn’t the actual leader of the Night’s Watch, and he overstepped boundaries. So someone pulled him aside and said, “You have to be led before you can lead.” In other words, you have to be a good teammate before you can be a good leader.
This really resonated with me. A lot of us think we have the capacity to be good leaders, but leadership is more than taking charge and telling people what to do. Listening is so important, making sure you hear what everyone else has to say.
In addition, surround yourself with very smart and dedicated individuals. Most of being a leader is building the team in the first place.
What are some specific goals that you want to accomplish by the end of your tenure as SGA president?
In terms of social activism, especially with recent events, we’ve come to the realization that certain organizations on campus – particularly certain marginalized communities – lack the resources they need to be successful: feeling secure, safe, and included. They should feel like Georgia Tech is home.
So we obviously want to focus on these communities, but we also want to do things for all students. We want to revamp the Counseling Center website – the SGA VP of information technology is working on that to make it cleaner, better looking, and easier to navigate. We also want to allocate more resources toward the Counseling Center in general.
And something else we’re trying to do is to provide more resources for organizations, such as the LGBTQIA Resource Center, or the different minority communities such as the African American Student Union. Another goal is to have every SGA member QPR trained – that stands for Question, Persuade, Refer – and to encourage other organizations to do the same. And Safe Space training [Georgia Tech’s LGBTQIA ally training program], diversity and inclusivity training – there are a lot of different things that people can be part of.
Switching gears, tell us about your co-op and internship experiences.
I did two co-ops at UPS, and then I interned at Clarkston Consulting. Working is an entirely different thing than taking classes because you have to be “on” for eight hours a day. It’s a different mindset. Co-ops and internships help you grow as a person in terms of your professionalism and your ability to be in a room with corporate executives, and they give you an opportunity to learn more. I highly recommend it to younger students.
What defines success for you?
I want to have a legacy at Georgia Tech. I want to be able to say I came to this school, but that I didn’t just get my degree and leave. Hopefully I will be able to make a positive difference. I want to be able to come back and see the progress of Georgia Tech – to see the things I helped build.
While many people claim on LinkedIn to be highly motivated, Georgia Tech’s Richard Wang isn’t kidding around.
Along with pursuing a computer science degree with a minor in business and computing through the Stephen A. Denning Technology & Management Program, the fourth-year student works throughout the year as a developer at The Home Depot, and he is active in the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.
Added to this is Wang’s role as executive vice president for undergraduate SGA.
“The purpose of student government is to represent and serve the needs of the student body,” Wang said. “We want to work together with the Georgia Tech administration to provide every student with the best possible Yellow Jacket experience.”
Representing 15,000+ Undergrads
Wang is no stranger to service. In fact, he has been serving in student government since he arrived on campus in 2014. That year, Wang began a two-year stint representing his class in the Undergraduate House of Representatives. He was then elected as Speaker of the House in August 2016.
Wang was officially sworn in to his term as SGA executive vice president in April of this year. In this role, he represents more than 15,000 undergraduate students.
“Most people might not know that we have office hours every weekday where students are able to connect with an SGA representative about their questions and concerns,” Wang said.
As for what he’d most like to accomplish during his term as vice president, Wang believes that the SGA could be restructured to better meet students’ needs.
“The current model we follow is outdated, and I believe that we can better utilize the talent and passion of our members to create an even better Georgia Tech,” said Wang.
A Go-getter for Quite Some Time
Wang says he is motivated in large part by his friends and the Georgia Tech community. But looking back to his high school career, it is obvious that Wang has been a go-getter for quite some time.
As a student at Woodward Academy in College Park, Georgia, Wang excelled in math and science. This, along with excellent classwork and other factors, led to his selection in 2012 as a Young Scholars intern at the University of Georgia’s College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences.
However, not content with academic success alone, Wang was also a member of the school’s wrestling team. As a junior, he won a state title in the 2013 Class AAA wrestling championships.
It was around this time that Wang started to become interested in pursuing a career in computer science. He says that competing on the robotics team in high school “made (him) realize how amazing technology is and how the possibilities are endless.”
With lots of solid leadership experience – and a wealth of computing and business knowledge – Wang plans to pursue these endless possibilities in the workforce following his graduation in the spring of 2019.
“I want to be able to work with emerging technologies as a product or project manager and really push the bounds of what’s possible to help streamline business processes and improve customer service.”