As students make their way back on campus (or step on campus for the first time) and return to the “new” normal, we sat down with Christopher Kattak, president of the Graduate Student Council and asked what the council has in store for us this fall.
Chris is a third-semester graduate student working on his Master’s in Public Relations here at COM. He graduated from Sacred Heart University in 2020 – he’s a “Zoom graduate,” as he described it – and got his Bachelor’s in Communication with a concentration in Advertising and Public Relations.
Maria V. Rodriguez: How did you get involved with the Council?
Chris Kattak: I got an email last fall explaining what the Council does and that they were looking for new people to take over some positions. Going into grad school, I knew I wanted to be as involved as possible, get the most out of my experience, meet new people, and help others especially since we were all struggling with online classes, extracurriculars, and, of course, with the pandemic.
I decided to apply for the role of Chair of the Professional Development Committee, had someone reach out for an interview, and then I was actually asked if I would be interested in being president. I really can’t tell you what it was or why they asked me, but they did and I was hesitant at first but then I said, “why not?” and I went ahead and took the position!
What does the COM Grad Council have in store for COM students this semester?
Last year the Council felt challenged as a whole. We were all experiencing Zoom fatigue but still wanted to put in the effort to bring people together and have some sense of community. When planning for fall 2021, we kept in mind that we would have a whole new class of graduate students coming in, as well as third-semester grad students who were also technically new to campus because of online school last year.
We were eager to plan and so we picked activities that tried to cater to everyone and we kept them outside when possible so people felt comfortable. We’ve hosted events such as apple picking and whale watching. And we’re even getting the COM grad students to see the BU vs Northeastern hockey game in November right at Agganis Arena. We thought the hockey game would be a fun way to give people from other parts of the country and the world the “true” New England experience.
We also try to host Coffee with the Council once a month for people to have a place to come grab coffee, a donut, and just hang out. We also let this be a chance for students to talk, mingle, but also to come to the Council with questions, feedback, even concerns, so we know what areas we can improve on.
What are your roles and responsibilities as president?
I lead and facilitate the Council’s weekly meetings. I am the spokesperson of the Council, so if we need to speak to faculty or staff or anyone about anything, I’m the guy. I also sit on academic misconduct meetings but haven’t needed to, so that’s good news!
How do you balance your presidential responsibilities with school and any other things you’re involved in?
I want to start off by saying that everyone on the Council is awesome and while we all have our own titles, everyone is always willing to jump in whenever needed. For example, I had something for work come up on a Tuesday evening, which are our meeting days, and the Vice President didn’t even think twice and stepped up to lead the Council meeting.
Everyone’s collaboration and willingness is something that I really appreciate about the council. The Council has the attitude of “let’s all work together and get things done!” We all have the common goal of offering students the best experience possible which makes it work.
What is one thing you’ve learned from being a part of the Grad Council that’s stuck with you?
No matter who you’re working with, working towards the same goal can bring people closer. The Council’s goal is to provide students with the best experience possible and last semester was very frustrating because we couldn’t hold a lot of the events we wanted to due to the state of the pandemic.
This semester has been incredibly rewarding for us, though, because we are finally able to put on the events we have been wanting to plan for students!
What are ways students can get involved with the COM Grad Council?
Our application is live right now and it’s due November 1! The link can be found here and the position descriptions can be found right on the application, too.
Maria V. Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Maria V. Rodriguez is a first-year Media Science graduate student at Boston University’s College of Communication. She was born in Venezuela, moved to the United States at 7 years old, and has lived in Florida for the majority of her time here (she’s pretty excited about the seasons in Boston). She received her BS in Media Communication Studies at Florida State University (Go ‘Noles!). When she graduates from BU, she wants to find a job in marketing for a TV/film production company or a media/streaming service – she likes entertainment! When she’s not studying or writing for The COMmunicator, you can find her crocheting, making matcha lattes, watching Netflix, or spending quality time with family and good friends.