Women in Leadership #PROFspective: Riya Bhatt, the AVP of University Advancement

Today we feature Riya Bhatt, the AVP of University Advancement for Student Government. Riya is a sophomore Biological Sciences major who also minors in Public Health and Wellness. Riya discusses her involvement in SGA (Student Government Association) and her future plans as a biological sciences major.

Why did you choose to study biological sciences? Have you always wanted to pursue a career in this field?

I wanted to major in biological sciences because I’ve always loved science and have always wanted to be a physician’s assistant. I think biological sciences is a great fit for me and what I want to accomplish after school.

Why did you choose Rowan to study biological sciences?

I chose Rowan because I wanted to be close to my family. I knew Rowan had small class sizes and a nice campus because my brother studied here. I knew this university provided their students with resources and that it was very easy to build relationships with professors. 

Riya Bhatt

How would you describe SGA (Student Government Association) to someone who is unfamiliar with it?

SGA stands for Student Government Association and basically serves/advocates for all students. I love being a part of SGA and I think it is a great organization. It focuses a lot on the development/the support of clubs, so the organization is there to facilitate those processes. 

We also serve as a student body, so we try to help students who have an issue. For instance, if a student has any issues with an academic building or a certain professor, we are here to hear their concerns and advocate for them.

What is your role within the Student Government Association?

I serve as the AVP of University Advancement within SGA. My role entails creating events, running philanthropy events, and organizing different things like senior class gifts. With senior class gifts, whatever donations that seniors donate to us, we keep that and use it for the next incoming class. I also am involved in Senior Week and Senior Day, where SGA hosts fun events for students can attend before they graduate.

I also attend a lot of different meetings. I attend committee meetings, I chair my own university advancement committee meetings, I attend senate meetings every other Monday from 7-9 p.m., and I also attend e-board meetings which are every week from 5-6pm.

Student government is a huge commitment, but I genuinely enjoy it and think it’s a great opportunity for everyone.

Riya sits in a gazebo, smiling.

When does SGA meet?

We have e-board meetings every Monday from 5-6 p.m. and biweekly on Mondays we have senate meetings. The weeks we do not have senate meetings, we chair our own committee meetings that usually range from 7-8 p.m.

I also have my own office hours on Monday and Wednesdays that take up five hours a week.

What would your dream job be as a Biological Sciences major?

There are two options that I would really love to do as a physician’s assistant. First, I am aiming toward being an OBGYN physician’s assistant. If I don’t like that or am not comfortable with that, I would like to pursue pediatrics and be a pediatric physician’s assistant.

I love women’s health and I think it is fascinating. I am a woman and I think treating women and being involved in women’s healthcare would be so cool. On the other hand, for pediatrics, I think it would be awesome to treat adolescents and babies and would love taking care of them.

Riya Bhatt posing inside the Student Center.

Is there a specific class or professor that has made a lasting impression on you? Why?

The first class that comes to mind is one I am taking this semester called Human Anatomy and Physiology. My professor’s name is Shahana Khan and she is awesome. She has a medical background, is a chiropractor, and has her Doctor of Chiropractic. Every time she lectures, she brings her medical background into the lecture and gives real-life experience. This makes her classes really engaging and entertaining — I feel like I am learning a lot. 

How do you think Rowan has prepared you for your future endeavors? What do you hope to accomplish in the near future?

Rowan has so many resources like ASCEND, EOF, or any resources I need to be successful. I can always count on someone or something for additional assistance when needed. It is nice that all students have access to this much help and guidance while trying to navigate academics, and everything else in college. 

I know I can always talk to my professors for advice or even for recommendation letters for future opportunities. My chemistry professor from my last semester actually wrote me a recommendation letter for a program I am really interested in for this summer.

Riya stands beside a tree, smiling.

How do you think your leadership role within SGA has prepared you for your future endeavors?

When I first got to Rowan I was really shy. As a freshman coming into college as a “Covid student” and being a commuter, it was definitely hard to meet friends and be social. I decided I wanted to get more involved and being involved with SGA has helped me come out of my shell.

I was a senator as a freshman where everything was virtual, and now I am AVP of University Advancement, so it makes me realize how far I have truly come. Being involved in my role just showed me how confident and responsible I can be.

What does a typical day for you look like? 

A typical day starts very early because the parking at Rowan is not easy to navigate at times. I try to get my classes out of the way in the morning so I can spend the rest of my day hanging out with friends and doing my work. My typical day just goes from class, to eating lunch, to my office hours for SGA, to preparing for any future events that may be coming up. 

Riya smiles, sitting in a gazebo.

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Story by:
Natalie DePersia, junior public relations major

Photos by:
Valentina Giannattasio, first year dance and marketing double major

Joseph Conte, junior community and environmental planning major

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