Natasha Rao

2015 Finding Confidence


What makes you a Difference Maker?

I believe that I am a Difference Maker because of the extent to which my involvement spread across campus. I am a firm believer that the college experience is not meant to simply be purely academic or purely social. In fact, I believe that college is meant to be an experience used to learn how to balance one's social and academic obligations, while also acquiring as much leadership experience as possible. I have done my best to use my college experience to do just that.

Throughout my time in college I have not only maintained my position on the Dean's List at the College of Business, but I also took time to find as many social, leadership, and community service opportunities on campus as I could. This led to my joining organizations such as Phi Sigma Sigma (Panhellenic Social Sorority), Student Government, the National Society of Leadership and Success, the LYCEUM literary journal, and the Golden Key International Honour Society.

However, I did not only want to be involved on campus via student organizations. I also wanted to contribute to the community in other ways. This passion and my high academic standing led me to becoming a Supplemental Instruction leader for the Behavioral Science program on campus. I support introduction to sociology and introduction to economics courses. Between my involvement as an SI Leader and a student organization leader through Phi Sigma Sigma and Student Government, my network was growing rapidly.

I found that I was able to both teach and influence the people around me while simultaneously learning and being influenced by them as well. I used every experience I endured as an opportunity to learn and grow. I think this attitude and my being surrounded by other inspiring leaders and encouraging faculty gave me the courage to be the Difference Maker I am.

Through my involvement in these activities, I was able to encourage other students to get involved in campus as well. The more leaders the campus the merrier, and the more we accomplish together. I feel that I was able to recruit new members and attendees for my sorority, Student Government, and the SI Leader program on campus. I am proud to have been a part of all of these organizations and programs and hope to have left a positive mark on each in a different way.

I believe my work in Student Government is most noticeable in regards to making a physical difference on campus. Throughout the years I moved from being a Fellow, to a Senator, to a Committee Vice-Chair, and finally to the Chairwoman of the Student and Academic Affairs committee. However, any differences I have helped bring about, are results of great team work and effort on behalf of the entire organization. Through devoting hours of off-campus time, working to maintain consistent and clear communication, and encouraging collaboration and the sharing of ideas, I have witnessed the Student and Academic Affairs Committee accomplish great things.

By working with faculty, administration, public safety, and other students on campus, the committee has participated in lighting walks on campus to assess and improve lighting for safety purposes, conducted campus-wide capital improvement surveys to more accurately improve student/campus life, provided rentable extension cords/power strips/ phone charges for the library, and has tackled various other projects aimed at improving student life. I am so happy to say that Student Government is not the only campus activity I have been a part of that aims to improve student life. Moreover, I am so proud to have been a part of organizations/programs that aim to improve campus/ community for the sake of improving lives as opposed to acquiring recognition.

I am a Difference Maker because I motivated to make a difference because of the amazing people I am surrounded by and the amazing community I am a part of.

Campus Achievements:

I entered university receiving the Dean's Scholarship due to my high grade point average and standardized test scores. I have maintained a position on the Dean's list every Fall and Winter semester from Fall 2012 to Winter 2015 for maintaining a high grade point average. I graduated with a grade point average of 3.86. I have received University Honors and have been named a James Angell B. Scholar. I have received a Leadership Synergy Certificate and a National Engaged Leadership Award. Additionally, in February 2016, I was named the Honor Scholar for the General Business (Pre Law) program. I was used as a interviewee for the December 2015 graduation article series released by the UM-Dearborn news.

Leadership Experiences:

In Phi Sigma Sigma I have held leadership positions on the executive board and the executive council as the Sisterhood Development Chair and the Fundraising Co-Chair. I have held leadership positions within Student Government as the Vice-Chair and, later, the Chairwoman of the Student and Academic Affairs Committee. I have been accepted into the Summer Pre-Law Program at Cornell University and was provided an internship to work as a legal intern/ law clerk at Kramer, Levin, Naftalis, & Frankel for the summer of 2014. I have also played a role within the Supplemental Instruction (Behavioral Science) Program in regards to starting new marketing efforts to increase SI Session attendance and SI Leader applications. These leadership experiences have all been wonderful. However, one of my most important leadership experiences involved the leadership conference: "Elect Her: Campus Women Win." I have not only participated in this conference as an attendee, but also as a panelist in Winter 2015 to speak on behalf of women leadership in Student Government.

What is your Dream Career?

My dream is not very specific. I am not sure what I truly want to be "when I grow up." However, I know that I want to be involved in the legal or political field. I want to be able to impact society and the world around me in a positive way as I, hopefully, have on campus.

I like the idea of working as an environmental lobbyist or a human rights activist. I have so much passion for environmental conservation as well as equal rights for all human beings. I have been in involved in activities such as "Take Back the Night" and the leadership conference, "Elect Her: Campus Women Win." These activities have really played a role in inspiring me to work toward equality for all.

I am unsure of where life will lead me and what career I will acquire in the future. However, in the meantime, the next step for me is law school. I have spent these past months completing and submitting law school applications. I truly hope for the best.

What was a Defining Moment at UM-Dearborn?

The most defining moment in my career as a student at the University of Michigan-Dearborn was an interview I had undergone with the head of the Behavioral Science Supplemental Instruction Program. I was taking part in a "re-hiring" interview to maintain my job as a Supplemental Instruction Leader on campus for another year. Deb Roundtree (head of the program) interviewed me as a part of the qualification process for re-hire into the program. This interview took place after I had completed my second year at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. It consisted of her asking me questions about my experience as an SI Leader up until that point and if I had dealt with any particular challenges or successes along the way to that point. It was a very standard interview.

However, after the interview had been completed, Deb had made a comment regarding the change she could see in my personality and my manner of speaking from the first time she had interviewed me. She had said that I had seemed more confident and secure in my abilities. It was at that point that I had realized that I was more secure and that I did feel more confident. At that point, the interview had ended and Deb and took a few moments to discuss the new topic that she had brought about.

I did feel more empowered, more confident, and more capable of being a leader within the campus community. It was at that moment that I realized the true extent to which my campus involvement was shaping the person I was and the leader I would someday become.