UGSLA Recipient: Kunal Kolhatkar

Undergraduate Student Leader: Immunology

Kunal Kolhatkar

In my role as Co-President of the Immunology Students’ Association (IMMSA), I strive to choose initiatives for IMMSA that I am personally passionate about because it provides an intrinsic drive to produce the best results possible. For example, I founded a new lecture series called, “Intro to Immunology Techniques” because I remembered feeling lost in my 2nd-year classes when my lecturers would mention techniques like Flow Cytometry and ELISA. By creating this series, I aim to connect experienced graduate students with interested undergraduates so that other students will not feel as lost as I did.

As the leader of IMMSA, I aim to develop mutual trust with my executive team so that I feel confident entrusting them with planning/running events and they feel confident coming to me for support. When IMMSA organizes an event, I do not plan the event alone but instead delegate the event planning to 2-3 executives and then create a group chat with them and myself. This way, the executives can plan the event while simultaneously keeping me up-to-date and asking for support as needed. The success of this method is evidenced by IMMSA’s track record of holding multiple events every month this year without any issues.

I place a strong emphasis on merit and equal opportunity and aim to embody this in my leadership position. For example, I chose to broaden IMMSA's annual research conference from Ontario and Quebec to a Canada-wide conference because I knew the conference allowed students to be exposed to other research topics, connect with students and researchers at other institutions, and present. I wanted to extend these opportunities to every student across Canada so that students at under-represented universities would have the same chance to succeed as students at larger institutuions.

I value passion, trust, and merit and I have grown into my abilities as a leader at IMMSA and in my broader university community. I have been fortunate to learn so much from my team members about how to be a better leader and I look forward to applying those values to my future leadership roles.