With plans and initiatives in hand, Student Government Association (SGA) President Daniel Gazzani headed into the final stage of his term. Ambitious as he is available, Gazzani’s work as the first international student as SGA president so far has been rooted in his deep passion to build a sense of community at the university.
The string of dominating topics he had chosen to pinpoint will find Gazzani essentially everywhere on campus. Whether he’s sitting behind his desk on the fourth floor of Sawyer, in Presidential Search meetings, connecting students across the globe or decoding the workings of a mobile app as a “one-stop shop,” his work has been meant to “serve Suffolk’s students and make their lives easier.”
Gazzani spoke candidly in a recent interview with The Suffolk Journal, which regarded his administration’s four main goals that he set out in the beginning of his term in May. These objectives included setting up an emergency fund scholarship for international students, rebuilding a relationship between the Board of Trustees, Faculty Senate and students, frame a mobile app for students and develop a leadership coalition program between Suffolk’s SGA and local high schools.
Referencing former SGA President Sean Walsh’s term as a “time of transition,” Gazzani said that he also assumed office during a critical point for the university.
“After [former] President [Margaret] McKenna was terminated, we were in a period where the university was looking for stability again,” said Gazzani, who is also a sitting student member on Suffolk’s Presidential Search Committee, led by frontman and Trustee John Brooks. “I think we had moved forward from that period and so when I became president, my entire goal was to resume the work that I had started when I was vice president.”
As a student leader who began to be apart of SGA during his sophomore year as a senator, the Venezuelan native has been dedicated to his work for his fellow international students since he ran for and clinched the vice presidency for his junior year.
Throughout this past summer and fall semester, a string of natural disasters had impacted the home countries of many international students in the Boston area. Since international students do not receive need-based scholarships, Gazzani set out to help those affected by these events.
“What if there is an international student that’s facing an unprecedented financial circumstance where they cannot pay for college,” said Gazzani. “There’s little relief to help these types of students out.”
Earnest for these students, Gazzani looked to create the “International Assistance Scholarship,” that would strictly be for international students in case of an emergency.
“We don’t want the message from Suffolk to be to their international student community that we only want you if you can pay,” said Gazzani. “We want the message to be that this is a university that embraces diversity and inclusion. And we’re going to help you stay here as long as we can.”
Gazzani worked with Senior Vice President of Finance Laura Sander, Associate Vice President of Bursar & Financial Planning Michelle Quinlan and Director of Student Financial Services Jennifer Ricciardi to put in a request for the scholarship to the Board of Trustees for the next fiscal year. If it passes, the scholarship will provide $30,000 worth of relief each year.
“It’s not too much of an amount where the Board will say no and it’s big enough to completely cover one-full semester with tuition and room and board for one student,” said Gazzani. “We can prevent one student from going home to where their life could be in danger.”
SGA Secretary Morgan Robb, who works closely with Gazzani, said he has been clearly focused on inclusion and has stayed persistent with the administration.
“Not only were we, as an organization, able to raise money, but he also has worked on having the university focus on building a fund for it,” said Robb to a Journal reporter on Tuesday night. “His passion has never wavered all year.”
Both Sander and Quinlan did not respond to contact with The Journal as of Tuesday night.
“This is the goal I am most proud of. As an international student myself, I can definitely feel for this and I know the struggles that we face here on campus,” said Gazzani. “I want to make sure that we keep creating opportunities for all students.”
With just three months left in his term, Gazzani has been proud to serve as Suffolk’s first international student president, where he has been able to “open new doors” for future international students looking to run for office. As he has stuck to his roots throughout his time in SGA by standing by diversity and inclusion, Gazzani believes that his legacy is “one of change.”