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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Aggie Profile: ASUCD Vice President Akhila Kandaswamy

Newly elected VP talks about her parents, books, music

Akhila Kandaswamy, a second-year managerial economics and statistics double major, ran to be ASUCD vice president to focus on sexual assault awareness and advocacy. Through this platform, she aspires to change stigmas around ASUCD and focus on how vulnerability can be a strength. Throughout her interview with The California Aggie about her new vice presidential position, Kandaswamy discussed her personal values that led to her interest in public service, while also talking about her other passions, including music and books.

Kandaswamy’s experience with the Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) in high school led to her passion in business. DECA is known for being a student organization that is focused on marketing, finance and management competitions, yet Kandaswamy gained a lot more through her experience. 

“[It was] our last couple conferences, and at one of them we had a workshop,” she said. “The students would step forward every time they had something in common. It started with, ‘What is your favorite color,’ or, ‘What is your favorite animal.’ But by the end, it had a different focus, more based on divorce or death.”

This experience tied into her own personal philosophy, as she learned about how vulnerability forges connections.

“We had all gone through these traumatic experiences, and sharing those experiences create[d] strength through connection,” Kandaswamy said. “Being open about vulnerabilities is important in being a leader.” 

In addition to her involvement with DECA, her personal connection to entrepreneurship was closer to home — both of her parents are immigrants from India. Her admiration of her parents is clear and inspiring and she cites them as a motivation. 

After discussing her interest in business, she turned to music and books. Kandaswamy said she loves every genre of music, save for classical, and she delved into some of her favorite artists.

“I love Tyler the Creator,” she said. “I got to see him when he came in November. I also really like ASAP Rocky and The Weeknd, as well as Macklemore, Khalid and Frank Ocean.”

In addition to music, she discussed her fondness for books. Growing up, one of her favorite hobbies was reading, and this has impacted how she sees the world.

“[Reading] is a great way to constantly change your mindset on life,” she said. “A way to figure out who you truly are.”

One of her favorite books is “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho, a simple story about an Andalusian shepherd boy who travels from Spain to Egypt in search of treasure. 

“[It reminds me] that things are deeper than they actually are,” Kandaswamy said. “When you are older you see the world differently.”

Written by: Athena Aghighi — features@theaggie.org


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