Riya Patel, president
Honors Student Organization President Rita Patel is a driven, law school bound student in her third year at Georgia State University. Majoring in political science with a concentration in law, she has aspirations of being an attorney of corporate law.
Patel draws her inspiration from her mother, a successful business owner who immigrated to the United States from India at a young age. She wants to make a big mark on the world, starting with the Honors College at Georgia State.
When asked why she ran for HSO president, Patel said she wants to support her fellow honors students who may be stressed by the pandemic and workload of online and blended classes.
“I want to be able to come up with virtual events for students, as well as outdoor COVID-safe gatherings,” she said.
Patel said she is most excited about a project the organization will start closer to the holidays, in which honors students will write cards and messages to their loved ones or essential healthcare workers on the pandemic frontlines. She also said HSO hopes to be able to foster connections and friendships between honors students of the same majors by organizing virtual networking events.
“The biggest thing I want to see this organization do is encourage interactions and fun in the lives of students”, Patel said.
Yanet Berakhi, vice president
Yanet Berakhi, vice president of HSO, has experienced life in many different countries. Her family is of Eritrean nationality, but Berakhi grew up in Saudia Arabia and then moved to the United States in her teens. She’s now a junior, pursuing a bachelor’s degree in both economics and political science in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. Her rigorous academic life has not stopped her from serving as a leader in the honors community.
“Students need to be able to feel connected in a time of such disconnect,” Berakhi said. “They deserve help and support with mental health issues, especially now. That’s why I decided to run for an HSO officer position.”
Her passion for promoting mental health awareness and support is evident in her plans to integrate the Honors College more closely with the Counseling Center and GSU Wellbeing, another program on campus.
She also wants to encourage students to embrace their differences, because “the things that make you unique can help you connect to people. I can connect to my African friends because of my ethnicity, and with my Arabic friends because of my experience in Saudi Arabia. Embracing your differences will give you power and peace in your adversity.”
Sarah Santiago, secretary
Sarah Santiago has entered the executive board of the Honors Student Organization with a fresh perspective. The Presidential Scholar is a freshman and is pursuing a bachelor’s of science in biomedical science and enterprise. She serves as the organization’s secretary and wants to help make her fellow freshmen’s first semester amidst a pandemic as good of an experience as possible.
“Because it’s my first year here, I wanted to get more involved with the Honors College and be able to meet more students, especially upperclassmen,” Santiago said. “I also wanted to take on a more active leadership role in the school.”
She hopes to be able to organize an information session with the HSO, so that freshmen can learn what resources are available to them in the Honors College, as well as the other opportunities they have around campus. Her goal is to work with the officer board to plan and host virtual social events so that all students, especially freshmen, can feel involved and connected with their peers.
Santiago has not let the unusual circumstances under which she has started college put a damper on her first semester, and she hopes others can do the same.
“Make an effort to make friends, even now when it’s hard. Just put your best foot forward,” is her advice to students. “Don’t be scared to mess up. You can always try again.”
Seth Kwarteng, treasurer
Seth Kwarteng is a junior majoring in biology with a pre-medicine concentration, and hopes to go to medical school and become a physician. As HSO’s treasurer, he has the responsibility of handling the organization’s budgets and accounting.
“I wanted to apply for an HSO officer position to take my shot at it. After all, you miss all of the shots you never take,” Kwarteng said.
He wants to use his position to help honors students get active and engaged in their community, and for them to spend time getting to know one another.
“We sent out a survey so that we can get a good idea of what types of events and projects students are interested in this year,” he said. “That way, we can implement things students are actually into.”
Kwarteng has spent the last two years living in the United States with his brother, while the rest of his family still resides in his home country of Ghana. Their support inspired him to take on a leadership role and serve the Honors College student body.
“My dad is my role model,” Kwarteng said. “He works so hard for me to be able to go to school here, and I am so grateful for his sacrifice.”
Asher Nevrekar, public relations officer
Serving as HSO’s public relations officer, Asher Nevrekar has big plans for the organization this year. He’s a sophomore and is double majoring in international economics and modern languages with a concentration in German.
While the pandemic has brought the lives of many students to a halt, it has inspired Nevrekar’s involvement.
“My freshman year was cut short by the coronavirus, and I wasn’t involved in many clubs,” he said. “So this year, I wanted to get into a leadership role, get experience and do something.”
Nevrekar has straightforward advice for staying motivated and positive—just don’t quit.
“Everyone has a voice in the Honors College,” Nevrekar said. “This year, I want to make sure everyone’s opinion is heard, and I want to make a strange year bearable and better for students.”
Profiles and photo graphic by Evelyn Farkas (Class of 2024)