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Leadership Highlight

Leadership Highlight: MIT’s Undergraduate Association President Andre Hamelberg

Photo Credit: Jade Chongsathapornpong

In an effort to highlight the people who are leading colleges and universities across the nation, we at Watch The Yard reached out to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and did an interview with Andre Hamelberg the 2023-2024 Undergraduate Association president.

The position of SGA president is a highly respected role and there is a special pride that one takes in being elected by their peers to lead. Hamelberg, who is majoring in Chemical Engineering and Mathematics, is from Atlanta.

We interviewed Andre Hamelberg, and talked to him about his position, goals, future and what it means to hold this type of leadership position in 2023-2024.

Photo Credit: Kevin Awoufack

Read the full interview below.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned as an SGA president so far?

I have learned many things during my time as President of MIT’s Undergraduate Association. The biggest is definitely the importance of being reliable and the ability to navigate institutional processes and communicate with various stakeholders, whether that be students, faculty, administration, corporation members, alumni, or external partners.

What made you decide to attend MIT for undergrad?

Growing up, I always was highly interested in STEM. I did everything I could to continuously advance my math, science, and engineering knowledge. One of those things was competing in math team and science olympiad competitions. While preparing with my team for competition, we would watch MIT OpenCourseWare videos and read MIT lecture notes. This is where my aspiration and dream to one day study at MIT stemmed from. Years later, my older brother, Julian Hamelberg, was accepted and began attending the Institute. At that point, I was determined to join him and live out my college experience with my brother. Luckily, I was granted that opportunity, and since then I have done all in my power to take full advantage of this opportunity.

Photo Credit: Sydney Chun

How has MIT molded you into the person you are today?

MIT has truly changed my perspective on life. I have learned of many valuable and important topics that are vital to our future such as areas within sustainability that I now hold of utmost importance in my daily life. Additionally, I have met the most brilliant minds and made unforgettable, lifelong friendships which I will take with me forever. People always say MIT teaches you how to solve problems. That skill can be applied to any situation and is what we take pride in having the ability to do. Now, on my way to graduation, I am more prepared than ever to tackle any challenge in my path.

What specific initiatives have you headed up this year (or are planning) and how do you think they will improve the school and surrounding community?

During my Vice President, Michael Hanson, and I’s campaign, we ran on the slogan to Bring Back MIT. The pandemic and recent events at the Institute have caused many significant changes to the MIT community leaving behind many traditions and values that are core to the MIT experience. With that in mind, we have worked tirelessly to lead initiatives in the realm of food security working to ensure all students have access to affordable, proper nutrition. We also are working to increase student body engagement with more campus activities and joyous events to improve student life. This semester we are prioritizing improving campus transportation and establishing more in depth, straightforward documentation and processes for the transition process for new incoming officers and chairs of our Undergraduate Association to make certain the progress we made can be continued and built upon into the future.

How is your SGA administration/school currently working on attending to the mental health of students?

Our Undergraduate Association has a Student Support and Wellbeing Committee that attends to the mental health of students. I can not give them enough credit for all the work they have done to uplift our MIT community. Just to name a couple things that they are currently working on, the committee is planning a large Wellbeing Fair event for all undergrads that will provide students access to all the available student support services at MIT in one location. Additionally, they are working on collaborating with MIT’s Violence Prevention & Response team to plan events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

What does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership is a dynamic blend of effective communication, delegation, and relationship-building. As a leader, I prioritize clear and open communication, ensuring that everyone on the team understands our goals, their roles, and the bigger picture. I believe in fostering an environment where team members feel comfortable expressing their ideas and concerns.

Photo Credit: Sydney Chun

We now live in a digital world, what do you think schools need to do to represent themselves online in 2023/2024?

In 2024, I believe schools need strong social media presences and to continuously highlight their students, faculty, administration, and staff that work so hard each and every day to keep the school thriving. It is very important to keep an accurate online representation and reflection of your brand in this day and age not only for individuals but also for schools and institutions.

Why do you think Watch The Yard is important to Black students and college culture?

Watch The Yard serves as a platform that enables Black students to witness the remarkable achievements of individuals with similar backgrounds, fostering empowerment for the next generation of leaders, builders, and doers. Archival efforts to preserve Black legacies, and celebratory recognition of their significant contributions, Watch The Yard contributes to a narrative that inspires and uplifts the Black community empowering people like myself to continue pushing the boundaries and opening doors for others to do the same.

What do you plan on doing after graduation?

Following graduation, I will be interning in Manaus, Brazil at Tutiplast, a plastic manufacturing company, while immersing myself into their culture and taking courses to improve my Portuguese. Then, at the conclusion of the summer, I will begin my full-time job working as a Quantitative Research Analyst at BlackRock in New York City!

We at Watch The Yard would like to commend Andre Hamelberg for his work as the SGA president of MIT.

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