Photo courtesy of MCPS Twitter
The Rampage sat down with newly elected Student Member of the Board (SMOB) Ananya Tadikonda to discuss her plans for the upcoming school year. The Richard Montgomery High School senior was elected as SMOB in April 2018 and was sworn in July 9, replacing previous SMOB Matt Post. The interview has been edited for space and clarity.
Rampage: Last year you were elected as SMOB. How have your life and responsibilities changed since then?
Ananya Tadikonda: My life has changed significantly. I’m almost always not at home. I’m almost always at meetings, interacting with different populations whether it be parents, students, community members, teachers, or my Board Colleagues or Board staff, obviously. But it’s been great and I love it a lot. It also means that I miss a lot of school but I was very prepared for that when I ran for the position.
R: Your term will end in June of next year. What do you hope to have accomplished by then?
AT: My term is already two months in, it’s kind of hard to believe that, it goes by at rapid speed. So one of the things I’m hoping to do is to bring elected officials more in touch with students, so instead of just having two town halls like Matt [Post] last year, I’m having three. One upcounty, one downcounty and one that’s just for student government.
R: In the time since you were elected last year, and through the summer, what did you work on related to SMOB?
AT: One of the things I’ve advocated for during my campaign is that I’m working with Board members to formulate a student mental health day. One of the things I’ve been working on is making sure there’s student representation when developing the programming for this mental health day because I think that it can only be effective if we take in student input as we consider what would be most impactful for kids. For example, if adults formulate the curriculum it’s going to be a lot harder to create something that actually resonates for kids especially on a issue like mental health.
R: What do you anticipate being the most difficult part of being SMOB?
AT: I think maybe the most difficult part might be balancing all the different facets of it because I have to be an equal to the adult board members, but my real job is to reflect the needs of my constituents which are the 162,000 students.
R: What advice did previous SMOB Matt Post offer you when he handed off the position to you?
AT: He basically told me about what it’s like to operate on a board where everyone is about 3 times your age. He gave me a lot of good advice on the dynamics, and some of the technicality, like how to push policy, how to push policy changes, how to best interact with students, maintaining things like the SMOB minute, things like that, so that has been very helpful.
R: Speaking with the average MCPS student, what have you found to be their greatest concerns and how do you plan on addressing them and bringing about change?
AT: The greatest student concern is just representation as a whole, I think. Equitably representing every kid and I aim to bring about change by really bring more access to student leadership opportunities.
R: How many female SMOB officers have there been? In what ways do you think you serve as a role model being a female in the position and in what ways, if any, do you think being a female affects your role as SMOB?
AT:I’m the eleventh female SMOB out of 41, so that statistic is obviously not okay because we should have SMOB’s who are as representative as possible of our county and our county is 52 percent female. I think that being a female SMOB really shows girls of this generation that they can do it too. I think that middle school girls having always seen for the past three years, even the freshman in high school right now would never have seen a female SMOB until me, so just them being able to see that it is possible and all it takes is to get out there and run and put yourself out there on the ballot.