If you’ve ever met sophomore Anurag Chandran, it’s hard to forget him. His charming confidence and positive attitude are more than enough to uplift anyone’s day.
What many people might not know, however, is just how scared Chandran was the first time he ran through the Columns during the 2012 Tiger Walk. Chandran had only recently flown to the United States from Dubai, where he had left behind everything he had ever known — his family, friends and way of life.
“Coming into this entirely new world, I was very apprehensive and scared,” Chandran said. “Sure, I’ve seen the imprints left by pop culture, but for those first three weeks, I was very homesick, and all I would do was sit in my room and Skype my parents about what I did during the day. That was the biggest joy for me, but it was also putting barriers on me and kept pushing me back.”
Chandran’s love for people is among the biggest catalysts that drove him to take an active part in the MU community.
His freshman year, Chandran joined the Residence Halls Association as a representative for College Avenue Hall, and was elected a Missouri Students Association senator to represent the School of Journalism.
He also found a place to practice one of his favorite hobbies: dancing. Chandran said he joined OFFICIAL, a hip-hop dance group on campus, because he wanted to work on his hip-hop dancing.
Chandran’s enthusiasm for debate and public speaking also prompted him to join MU’s mock trial team. That year, the team placed at the regional tournament and went on to the national competition in Washington, D.C.
People certainly took notice of Chandran’s involvement across campus when he was selected as one of Omicron Delta Kappa’s Top 14 Freshmen, but one of his favorite organizations to get involved with, Chandran said, was Dance Marathon, for which he became the multimedia chairman as a freshman.
“It’s such a great cause,” Chandran said. “When you get to meet these children you are raising money for, it’s such a warming experience. We actually call them ‘miracle kids’ because they fight everyday. They inspire me. That’s why I do it for them.”
As he transitioned into the sophomore year of his MU career, Chandran, along with junior Brooke Shoopman, were both chosen to serve as the 2013-14 Residential Life Committee co-chairs of Dance Marathon.
“Working with (Chandran) is like working with a ray of sunshine,” Shoopman said. “He is always so positive, and he burns with this special passion for his projects. People like him sometimes get burnt out, but he didn’t. He seems to stay on top of everything and never loses positivity. It was really motivating to work with him, and to see him grow even more as a leader was fantastic.”
Chandran said he wants to move in a different direction and focus more on career development and things that would help his personal growth.
To do just that, he pledged to join Delta Chi, where he said he was given the opportunity to network and learn the value of brotherhood. Chandran also continued his passion for dancing as the Delta Chi dance director and even performed during Greek Week.
Chandran also continued to find ways to give back to the MU community. He learned earlier this semester that he was chosen to become a Summer Welcome leader and a campus tour guide.
In addition to inspiring potential Tigers, Chandran is able to inspire students who have already arrived at MU as a leadership advisor at College Avenue Hall.
Off-campus, Chandran is a legislative intern for State Rep. Rochelle Walton Gray, D-St. Louis.
Chandran is also heavily involved with environmental activism.
Chandran said he considered himself an environmentalist since he was 13-years-old. And during the summer after his freshman year, Chandran trained with people from around the world in former U.S. Vice President Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Course.
“He is still very involved on campus in a lot of different things, but you can see a more focused determination in him now,” Shoopman said. “He is a leader who knows how he wants to lead, instead of a leader who asks, ‘Where should I go?’”
Chandran aspires to become a diplomat someday, and continue to advocate for sustainable changes, not only in Dubai, but across the globe.