Ten quick questions at Tulane: Shahmeer Hashmat, cofounder of Tulane’s premedical fraternity

Deeya Patel, News Editor

Shahmeer Hashmat is a senior majoring in neuroscience. He is the co-founder of Tulane’s pre-med fraternity and vice president of Academic Affairs in Undergraduate Student Government. We sat down with him to gain some insight into why he founded this fraternity and how he plans to reach as many students as possible through his position in USG. 

You founded Tulane’s Phi Delta Epsilon pre-med fraternity. What made you decide Tulane needed a chapter?

Tulane has a big percentage of pre-meds in terms of other schools [on campus]. What I found during my first year here was that there was not a strong community for those students, and a lot of them tended to drop. And some of the reasons you’d hear about why people were dropping pre-med were, “Oh, this class is too hard” or, “I saw other people having fun.” They were sort of dropping it for reasons that people really shouldn’t be changing their career paths for. I think the biggest reason was that there wasn’t really a community here. Business students have fraternities, law students have Phi Alpha Delta, and engineering students, too. You see these sorts of pockets on campus where people could go to, and there just wasn’t one for pre-med. And I think with such a large population we definitely needed one. 

What are some events that the fraternity puts together?

Our two biggest events every year are our philanthropy events. One is Stand for the Kids, which is going to happen in October. We’re going to be on the quad, do different shows and raise money for the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Another is Children’s Miracle Week, which happens in the spring. And that’s just a whole week of constant fundraising, smaller events here and there. There are some bigger events we do. In terms of internally, we have panels, workshops, speakers, and we have different health and wellness awareness activities we put in place as well, those sorts of things. 

Who has been your favorite guest speaker so far?

My favorite speaker was Marc Kahn, who was the [associate] dean of admissions at Tulane Medical School. He came in and talked to us about what you have to worry about being a pre-med student, what you don’t have to worry about. He was fantastic. 

You’re also involved in a cappella. Was that something you decided to pick up in college, or have you always enjoyed singing? 

I did musical theater in high school, and I loved it … When I was touring [Tulane], I saw some groups, and I just wanted to give it a shot. The one I’m in right now, TU Tones, has been a blast. It’s the closest family I have on campus. 

Do you think a capella gives you a break from a college experience that can become overrun by STEM?

One hundred percent. I think that’s definitely the biggest reason I love it so much. I do some other stuff on campus. It’s more initiative focused, like how I can benefit the school and student body. But I guess the one thing I do on campus that’s solely for fun is a capella. It’s not a break from not necessarily classes, but definitely a break from everything I’m doing. 

As the vice president of Academic Affairs for USG, what are some goals you have for the upcoming year? 

The biggest thing I want to do this year is to work on initiatives that are more broadly focused … One of those big ones I’m working on right now is establishing a registration system with the registrar that people can apply for early registration. That’s very preliminary, and we don’t know where that’s going to go. Another big one is we want to reach out to more students. Like, okay, what are the bigger campus-wide issues that we want to solve. Another thing is a Tulane Rate My Professor system that’s very up-to-date, and also make course evaluations public. 

What are some goals that USG has in general for the school year that you think deserve the most attention?

Making USG extremely transparent. Making it so that we’re not just a group that are elected by [the] student body. And not have people think, “Oh, they’re the only people that can do anything.” We want to include everyone and help them be a part of the initiative-making process. We’re trying to create a culture on campus where people aren’t just saying, “This is frustrating,” they’re saying, “This is frustrating. Let me go work with some people to actually change it.” 

Are you hopeful that students will get involved?

We are hopeful. We’re going to put everything into place where that door is open. We have a lot of programming this year, I think a lot more than we’ve ever had, a good amount within the first week and a half. I think having those events open to everyone and having USG be present and communicate with their constituents or just the students will really explain what we do and if they want to make a difference, they can do it through here. 

What’s one tip you have for freshmen?

I think the biggest tip I give is, right now, say yes. Say yes to different things. Figure out what you like and what you don’t like. And it’s okay to drop things if you don’t like it. 

When’s the last time you surprised yourself?

The other day a first-year came up to me and said, “You did my tour, and it’s the reason I came here,” and I was really surprised. I didn’t know what I was saying on that tour could create that sort of impact and convince a student to come to campus. 

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