November 26, 2018
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Pranav Mulpur ’19, a political science major, is also a Head Community Advisor (HCA). While Community Advisors at Kenyon typically work within a residential area to bring the community together and ensure the safety and comfort of all its residents, the HCA role handles similar duties but also works with the College’s administration to determine policy. We caught up with Pranav to see how he views his role as a HCA and how he sees it developing him as a person and as a professional.
“What's interesting about being a college bureaucrat is that you sort of gain a lot more empathy for the administrators. You get the tough job they do but you also act as a venue for students.” Meaning, due to Pranav working closely with the college decision makers, he acts as a conduit for students to voice concerns.
This ability to work between the two worlds of student and administrator is important for Pranav’s intended future career in public service. Reflecting on the skills he has developed from his job, he pinpoints two skills that he feels are most important.
The first is the “emotional skill.” He describes it as the ability to empathize with and listen to people of different backgrounds and take their ideas seriously. The second is the “practical skill.” Pranav explains this as the ability to navigate the bureaucracy and ensure that all voices are considered in the decision making process. Another way he interprets this practical skill is the capacity to be patient for change. As Pranav puts it, “big ships turn slowly.” He understands that change will not usually happen overnight or in one massive policy shift. It will be shown through smaller adjustments that will ultimately culminate in a desired outcome. When prompted for an example of these skills in action, Pranav explained that if a HCA identifies a need to better support students’ mental health, the HCA will listen to residents and other CAs about this issue to gain a diversity of perspectives. Then, the HCA will coordinate with the staff of Residential Life and other departments to share student concerns and determine what can be implemented now and in the long-term to improve student wellbeing.
Being an HCA isn’t the first time Pranav has experienced advocating for students and collaborating with key decision makers. In middle school, he started a petition against an asphalt plant being built near his school. He was concerned about the safety hazards it posed and engaged students, faculty, administrators, and townspeople to consider the impact of the plant’s proximity. This turned into a ten year fight between the town and the company. Pranav’s efforts eventually got him elected onto the school board while still in high school. He brings this same spirit of advocacy and collaboration to his current work.
Even through coursework Pranav has had the opportunity to critically think about his role as an HCA and its connection to broader structures of public service. This semester in a public policy class he explored how a policy problem is recognized. He saw how government leaders rely on civil servants like police officers, social workers, or teacher who work closely with constituents to get the pulse of a community. Pranav reflected how at Kenyon, Community Advisors are those often first aware of student needs and therefore essential in helping campus administrators effectively address key issues.
Through experiences in and out of the classroom, and through the pivotal awareness that “big ships turn slowly” Pranav has developed the patience, passion, and professionalism crucial for success as an HCA and for a career in public service.
Juniper Cruz ‘19