As Suren Daryanani, ‘11, stands amidst the chaos of first-year move-in day, he is greeted by friendly handshakes, hugs, and high-fives from upperclassmen who all seem to know his name.

“Hey, Suren!”

“Suren!”

“What’s up Suren?”

Daryanani, who is president of Richmond College Student Government Association (RCSGA), a resident assistant, and a student admission representative, is well known on campus. Yet, he remembers a distinctly different experience on his own move-in day as a first-year student.

“It was so overwhelming,” recalls Daryanani, who is from Willemstad, Curacao, in the Netherlands Antilles. “It was the first time I was ever away from home by myself.”

As an international student far from home he was out of his element. Life at UR was a big change from an idyllic Caribbean island.

But rather than isolate himself, he plunged right in. “I was very eager to get involved with numerous organizations,” he recalls. “But then I realized it was very important for me to find one or two organizations that I could fully commit myself to so that I could always give 110 percent.”

He won a spot as an RCSGA senator his first year and became passionate about student government. As a sophomore he was elected RCSGA secretary. He spent the fall semester of his junior year studying in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Upon his return, he says, “I missed being in student government and making a difference on campus.”

He began talking to the outgoing RCSGA president about the position­. After learning more about the time commitment it required and the skills he would gain from serving as president, Daryanani determined, “This is exactly what I want to do. I feel I have all the capabilities to be a successful president here.”

Last spring, after Daryanani was elected, he was surprised to learn he is the first international student to serve as RCSGA president.

“Personally that meant a lot to me,” he says. “Not only did I work hard at it, but I feel like it’s a transition in the scheme of things at the University of Richmond. The University is starting to be more diverse. … I think it was great that I was able to win the election. It can be used as a way of showing that the University is definitely changing and in my opinion, changing in the right direction.”

Every year, he says, he sees more international students on campus. He is proud to serve as a role model for them. “I am trying to work hard to get international students involved in everyday life at the University,” he says. “I hope [my example] has triggered international students to come out of their shell a little bit. I think that will make Richmond a more united place.”

As RCSGA president, Daryanani hopes to work toward some of the same goals that are outlined in the University’s strategic plan, the Richmond Promise. “I want to find ways to get students more involved in the city of Richmond,” he says. He hopes to work with the Center for Civic Engagement to identify programs that will get students interested in making a difference in the city.

Daryanani plans to reestablish RCSGA’s student organization liaison program that connects senators with group on campus. He will also promote diversity by working with groups such as Common Ground and the Office of Multicultural Affairs, and through his work as a student admission representative. Daryanani, who is Indian, is himself involved with the South Asian Student Alliance.

He also hopes to work toward the establishment of a “Spider Street,” on campus, an area with restaurants and other businesses that would provide a new entertainment outlet for students. “It was an idea that one of our past senators had,” he says. “I want to actually go through with that as a possible project.”

Daryanani, who is an economics and business administration major with a minor in history, plans to look for work as a management consultant after graduation, and to eventually earn an MBA. His dream job? President of basketball operations for his favorite team, the Miami Heat.

He believes his experience at UR has prepared him to work toward the achieving that goal. “One of the greatest gifts Richmond has given me is the constant push to do better,” he says. “Richmond has also kicked me out of my comfort zone pretty well… It has pushed me to pursue leadership opportunities or take tough classes. It has pushed me to strive for constant excellence rather than stay in the status quo.”