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Volunteer Spotlight: Harsha Dronamraju, A08

Lean on me

Although it's been more than two years since Harsha Dronamraju, A08, was enrolled on the Hill, through the Tufts University Alumni Association (TUAA) and the Tufts Alumni Council (TAC) he has seamlessly transitioned from active student to active alum. Elected to the TAC in 2008, this year he has stepped up his role to chair of the Student Issues Committee, with a focus on young alumni. Harsha says "the goal of that committee is to think about how can we advertise the TUAA to students while they're still students, and foster that feeling that Tufts is a lifetime of friendship and fraternity. We want you to know that you can make the most of that association, that you can rely on your alma mater for more than reunions and Homecoming."

Ready, set, volunteer!

Like most Tufts students, Harsha was a busy Jumbo from the word "go." A member of the TCU Senate, Tufts Association of South Asians, Tufts Hindu Student Council, and Tufts Hillel Moral Voices as an undergraduate, he also interned with the UK Parliament while participating in the Tufts-in-London program during his junior year. This, he says, is where he got the bug-the Tufts love bug. "I had the opportunity to meet a lot of Tufts alumni in London," he says, "and I was really won over by the sense of community that I still felt despite being abroad. There were alumni all over the place who would hold events for us; they were such a great resource. I realized that it's four years of being a student, but it's a lifetime of being an alum."

Now Harsha's trying to spread the message to his fellow alumni from coast to coast, while also inspiring them to do what they do best: give back. This past summer with the help of TAC co-chair Jeff Katzin, A06, Dronamraju organized what he calls his proudest achievement as an alum: the first ever Jumbo Alumni Service Day. From New York to Boston, and San Francisco to Los Angeles, on June 19, 2010, volunteers worked as one in the spirit of the university to better their communities with beach and park clean-ups, and free breakfasts for the homeless. "We wanted to create an event that would give students and alums a feeling that Tufts is doing something that doesn't just stop at Medford and Somerville," he says, "but that is a national-and potentially international-event." Dronamraju says the TAC is working toward making this service day an annual, global occasion. "I think it would be a cool way to show young alums and students that they have a lot to look forward to when they graduate."

On the horizon

Keeping his nose to the social networks, Harsha's on the hunt for any new technology that might encourage his peers to stay active and increase the TUAA's "virtual presence," be it smartphone apps or online web 2.0 programs. A senior consultant associate team leader at Cambridge Associates in Boston, MA, he says "it's interesting to see how a lot of the same strategic ideas and concepts that come in a corporate environment are also applied to alumni resources."

Also a volunteer for Big Brothers of Massachusetts Bay and an executive member of the Tufts Asian American Alumni Association, Harsha hopes to continue his tenure with TAC for the foreseeable future. Up next for the TAC? The Back to the Hill: Young Alumni Festival, June 10-12, 2011-alumni from the classes of 2001-2010 are invited to take over campus for one weekend in June. Jumbo, beware!