‘A very collaborative leader’: Meet incoming DUU president Mahika Jammula

Junior Mahika Jammula promises to emphasize building community both within Duke University Union and with other groups on campus during her tenure as DUU president for the upcoming school year.

Jammula was selected in January through an internal DUU application process overseen by the current president and executive vice president and later voted for by the DUU Executive Board. She will serve alongside incoming Executive Vice President Michelle Igbinadolor, a junior, beginning April 24.

“I would say that I am a very collaborative leader,” she said. “There is a lot of value in intentional listening … giving everyone who’s there not only a chance to speak but [also] encouragement to speak, knowing that their ideas and what they say are going to be valued and appreciated and taken into consideration.”

DUU is the largest student-led programming and media body at Duke and is made up of 17 committees, including Campus Concerts, Duke Student Broadcasting and the Coffeehouse, among others. The president has the responsibility of organizing communications, budgets and support for the chairs of each committee.

“We're the voice of the chairs,” she said. Jammula explained that she represents committee chairs in communication with University administration but also acts as “the voice of the student body for the chairs” in communication with various student organizations and affinity groups.

Jammula has worked in DUU for three years, currently serving as chair of daytime programming and a member of the Last Day of Classes committee. She previously held positions as a first-year intern and chair of the campus concerts committee.

Drawing on leadership experience

Jammula said her experience working in a number of capacities at DUU has given her an understanding of a wide range of student roles in the organization, as well as substantial experience collaborating and programming. 

According to sophomore Nate Drebin, current co-chair of the LDOC committee, Jammula displayed effective delegation skills when she oversaw his work as a first-year intern with Campus Concerts.

“Instead of just saying, ‘here's how we usually do things,’ she said, ‘I want you to be creative and challenge yourself and find a meaningful way to announce it,’” Drebin said. 

Drebin said that Jammula gave him and other members full ownership over their work, but was still ready to “step in” and help things “run smoothly.” 

Jammula wants to enhance collaboration in DUU in multiple ways, such as setting up part of the budget specifically for community building within committees.

She also aims to implement more collaborative processes to help new committee chairs transition into their roles. Jammula noted that chairs for the upcoming school year were chosen just after spring break — “the earliest [they] have been chosen” — in an effort to give the new officeholders an opportunity to shadow their predecessors in meetings and other responsibilities. 

She added that outgoing and incoming chairs are now working together on “transition projects,” referencing the marketing chairs’ work creating headshots for the DUU team as an example. Such collaborative projects allow current chairs the chance to offer guidance instead of immediately handing the reins over to their successor.

Other goals include increasing the visibility of DUU events through strategic marketing and emphasizing “quality over quantity” programming.

Building community outside of DUU

Another major goal that Jammula has is to expand the amount of collaborations between DUU and student leaders.

“The communities of Duke and the people at Duke are what make us, us,” Jammula said. “I think we can have a lot more committee member community and engagement in forming those communities.”

She noted that in the past, student groups have turned to DUU for funding for their events. She hopes to build relationships earlier in the event planning process, leveraging DUU’s resources to support student groups “every step of the way.”

Jammula wants to expand safe spaces for Duke students and their activities and to ensure that students who feel their previous events lacked visibility are better supported in the coming year. 

“If we're not doing something for a Duke student or community, we want to make sure we're finding a way to,” she said.

After working with her during a summer internship in 2022, junior Ahkilesh Shivaramakrishnan said that Jammula’s strengths lie in compassionate and inclusive collaboration.

“She’s someone that really cares about everyone's opinions and perspectives,” Shivaramakrishnan said. “She also really makes sure to incorporate everyone in the conversation and that no one's voice [is] ever excluded.”

Winston Qian

Winston Qian is a Pratt first-year and a staff reporter for the news department.    


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