Chanu Cherukuri, a junior biomedical engineering major with an emphasis in pre-med, is a well-known student at Mississippi State University among peers and faculty alike. He is said by many to be a friend to all on campus.
Cherukuri was born and raised in Madison, Mississippi and was a shy kid during his childhood.
"I was pretty reserved. I had a couple of friends from kindergarten until high school. I met one of my best friends through our parents, and I joined his friend group around junior year. When I go back to Madison, I still hang out with those guys. Throughout college, I have made plenty of friends through involvement and various organizations," Cherukuri said.
In the back of his mind, Cherukuri always knew he would attend MSU. His parents, however, required a little more persuasion. They both got their undergraduate degrees in India and got their master's degrees in the U.S. In the end, however, they were supportive of their son's decision to attend MSU.
"My parents were against it at first because they thought I should go somewhere with a 'really good education...' But MSU is pretty good, ... and I had a full ride," Cherukuri said. "Another reason is that MSU is also a much better school for engineering [than the other schools he was choosing between]."
Cherukuri is currently involved in the Student Association, Maroon VIP and New Maroon Camp.
Cherukuri is not only a member of these organizations but also serves in many of them from a position of leadership. Cherukuri is the president of Maroon VIP, a senator in Student Association and logistics coordinator on New Maroon Camp executive staff.
Cherukuri spoke fondly of the Student Association and the various roles he has occupied during his time within the organization. His freshman year, he was a counselor for Freshman Forum, one of the freshman groups overseen by SA. Sophomore year he was a cabinet member and a director for Freshman Forum. He said his current position as a senator has allowed for further growth of his love for MSU.
"Being in SA has given me more of an appreciation of what makes campus run ... People don't realize they do a lot here. I love being in the loop. People can ask me, 'Hey, what is going on with so-and-so?' And I can explain it to them," Cherukuri said. "Also, my ideas are able to come to life, and I have the ability to make change here."
SA has taught Cherukuri valuable skills in organization, being intentional with his time and how extroverted he truly is. He said he has made his most meaningful friendships in SA, specifically during his time in Freshman Forum.
This semester, campus organizations have been forced to get creative with how to have meetings and events during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Cherukuri, their hard work has not gone unnoticed.
"Every organization is still running smoothly to the best of their abilities. For example, in Maroon VIP, we are working to be able to give tours again because that is our purpose," Cherukuri said.
Anna Rose Harris, a junior childhood development major who serves alongside Cherukuri on Maroon VIP executive staff, commends his leadership style as president during this atypical semester.
"Chanu's amazing leadership in Maroon VIP sets a great example and holds us all accountable to be the best we can be on campus and for everyone we give tours to," Harris said.
When asked to identify a role model that has encouraged him to go beyond his comfort zone during his time at MSU, Cherukuri answered without hesitation.
"Hope Lee, ... she's phenomenal. I want to be her when I grow up. She is so driven, organized and hardworking. She's a joy to be around, and she's so funny. She made the Donald Zacharias Leadership Conference [for Freshman Forum] happen with our help, and I know she could've done the whole thing by herself," Cherukuri said.
Lee, a junior broadcasting major, has served alongside Cherukuri in various organizations and answered why she thinks he stands out.
"The thing I admire most about Chanu is his ability to draw people in. His magnetic personality serves as a tool to lead a team and make friends simultaneously," Lee said.