The road to BPA Presidency

Saveri Nandigama becomes BPA State Council President

Juniors Katelynn Smith and Bridgett Eusebi help Saveri Nandigama campaign for a spot on the BPA State Council. (Photo courtesy of Saveri Nandigama)

Junior Saveri Nandigama walks down the elegant halls of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. As she passes members of Business Professionals of America (BPA) chapters from across Michigan, they smile and wave to her, calling her by name. She receives high-fives, handshakes, and even selfie requests from hundreds of people at the 2016 BPA State Conference. How did she go from a number to a celebrity in less than four hours? Well, Nandigama became the Michigan BPA Council President last Saturday evening.

BPA is a national organization that helps prepare students for careers in business. Students compete in events ranging from interview skills to graphic design in hopes of advancing to the national level. While Mercy’s BPA chapter led by English teacher Mrs. Halle Smith is small, it has definitely made a huge impact.

Nandigama has been a member of BPA since freshman year. She competes in the extemporaneous speech event and has placed at the regional and state level.

“I saw the state officers every year at the State Conference and at regionals,” said Nandigama. “They were always so dignified and knew what they were doing. It inspired me to run because I wanted to be a role model to someone too.”

The complicated road to presidency started last August when Nandigama began making connections and preparing for her campaign. By the time she officially applied for the position in October, Nandigama had a hard working campaign team by her side. She chose juniors Katelyn Smith and Bridget Eusebi because, according to Nandigama, they really understand her as a person.

“They did everything from hair and makeup, planning outfits, making suckers to pass out, planning a budget, and filling out applications,” said Nandigama. “They truly helped me from start to finish.”

“At first Saveri had to do most of the work by filling out forms and completing a phone interview,” said Smith. “The last two weeks before the conference, I had to start staying up all night, every night preparing campaign materials. At the conference, Bridget and I dedicated 100 percent of our time to helping Saveri with whatever she needed and making sure that she got out and about to meet people.”

“The process was tiring, the entire weekend [of the State Conference] we didn’t go to bed before 2 a.m.,” explained Eusebi. “We had to get her campaign ready, prepare her for her speech and interviews. So much work went into it because we made sure that we followed every rule to ensure her success. Even before the conference we had to budget plan, plan out exactly what we needed, and the cost of everything. By the time we got there everything was planned out, even down or what she would wear everyday.”

Nandigama’s slogan was “Network, Connect and Serve” and she ran on these principles. Her goal as president is to truly unite the thirteen BPA regions in Michigan and to encourage networking.

“Bridget and I were thrilled when Saveri became president,” said Smith with a smile. “We were grasping each other’s hands so tightly that I thought my hand was going to fall off. Although after Saveri was elected, Bridget and I realized that her election was bittersweet for us because we realized that all of Saveri’s time is going to be used with State BPA and Bridget and I would be left to handle the Mercy chapter of BPA, and regionals, and states without her next year.”

Even though most of Nandigama’s efforts will be spent with the council, her presidential win is a big deal for Mercy. It puts the small chapter on the map and positively represents the school.

Nandigama is excited for her responsibilities as State Council President, and plans to use the business skills she’s learning in a career as a Human Rights Lawyer or a member of the World Health Organization in the future.