CALS SAIGE Q&A: Shwetha Ramanathan, President, and Karlinton Rafael Flores Maldonado, Events Coordinator

WRITTEN BY Amelia Cook, 

This exclusive interview features former CALS SAIGE executive members, Shwetha Ramanathan, President, and Karlinton Rafael Flores Maldonado, Events Coordinator. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Student Association for Interdisciplinary and Global Engagement (CALS SAIGE) offers unique opportunities for students interested in international experiences and agriculture.


What was your favorite part about being a member of CALS SAIGE?

Shwetha: My favorite part about being a member of CALS SAIGE was interacting with other members of the association, be it other graduate students or members from CALS International Programs, who were like-minded individuals truly passionate about the interdisciplinary exchange of ideas and deeply interested in learning about agriculture and life sciences research from a global perspective. The members represented diverse geographies, cultures, and departments within the College, and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about their personal experiences and viewpoints.

Karlinton: My favorite part of being a part of CALS SAIGE was the ability to know new people. Encounter new experiences from graduate students, industry professionals, and professors that work around the world.


What was something you did in CALS SAIGE that made an impact on our community?

S: As a member of CALS SAIGE, I was involved with organizing and promoting a number of CALS SAIGE International Seminars, for which University professors and researchers were invited to speak about their international backgrounds and international experiences in research. These seminars were extremely successful in educating the audience — comprising of graduate and undergraduate students as well as faculty — in agriculture-related research priorities around the world and globally relevant challenges faced by contemporary agricultural production.

K: Standardizing some parts of the flyers and bringing 3 speakers were my main contributions to the group. I also organized a coffee plant sale, however, this never happened because of COVID 19 pandemic.


What would you like to see SAIGE do in the future?

S: CALS SAIGE was renowned for connecting NC State students with visiting research scientists through round-table meetings, seminars, and discussions to allow the students to interact with them and learn more about agriculture and life science research being conducted internationally. These also provided exciting opportunities for the students to establish professional contacts and relationships for future collaborations. I would love to see CALS SAIGE continuing this endeavor.

K: I would like the seminars to come back in person. Getting new students involved and some fundraising activities going. I have graduated from NC State and would like to participate in the future with my international experiences.


Moving forward, what opportunities does this group provide for all its new members?

S: Starting out as a member of CALS SAIGE, I also proudly served as Secretary and, later, as President. A multitude of administrative and leadership positions exist within CALS SAIGE that interested members can take up to hone their management skills and elevate their role in the association. CALS SAIGE’s efforts are definitely based on teamwork and being a member allows students to participate in group discussions and generate creative ideas, and most of all, build camaraderie with other members who share similar interests.

K: The group could give all NC State University students ideas and opportunities on how their careers can be done internationally or affect international affairs.


Why should students participate in CALS SAIGE? 

S: I believe students should participate in CALS SAIGE to broaden their view and understanding of interdisciplinary and global research and development. CALS SAIGE Welcome Parties for new members with games and food, monthly meetings which may include pot-lucks, and participation in the annual NCSU International Festival, are all wonderful activities for members to engage with other students in a fun-filled setting. CALS SAIGE encourages active involvement in events and participation in discussions revolving around international agriculture and research, thereby providing a stimulating break for students from stressful coursework and experiments.

K: CALS SAIGE provides a great learning environment, where international experiences are brought to the group. This allows the students to gain some insight into a specific international experience before they commit and learn by themselves. This gives students interested in international careers or internships what are their options and how to apply for them.

To learn more about CALS SAIGE, join the email group, and view the International Seminar Series, click here.