Academics People and Community

Graduating senior’s strong level of involvement developed his voice

Through his campus-wide contributions while attending the University, Ishaan Chatterjee discovered his passions, established his community, and found that his voice is a dynamic strength.
Ishaan Chatterjee
Photo courtesy of Ishaan Chatterjee

When he was a teenager, Ishaan Chatterjee learned early on that his voice was influential. Being one of the few Indian American students at his predominately white high school, he was compelled to be an eloquent leader early on.

The teenager everyone called “Ish” grew into an outgoing Model United Nations delegate and a senior class senator for Student Government at the University of Miami.

“When I was looking for a college to go to, one of the things that I kept in mind was seeking out a diverse education and someplace where I could be involved in a community that had voices from different demographics,” said Chatterjee, who hails from Bedford, New Hampshire. “Looking at UM, I found that place.” 

From the moment he visited the Coral Gables Campus four years ago, he knew that this was where he wanted to use his voice to mature and develop into a well-rounded young man. His parents, who are Indian immigrants, encouraged his decision to attend the University because of its diversity.

Today, Chatterjee is earning his bachelor’s degree in microbiology and immunology with minors in public health and chemistry. He also is graduating with several academic honors, including the distinctions of magna cum laude, Presidential Scholar, and as a member of Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, the first college honor society to recognize students for leadership on a national level. During his time at the University, Chatterjee also worked as a resident assistant at Eaton Residential College, dedicated many hours to microbiology research, and was part of the President’s 100, where he gave tours to prospective students as an ambassador of the University.

As an incoming first-year student, Chatterjee received advice to attend Canefest, an annual involvement fair hosted by Student Affairs at the start of the fall semester, and to sign up for as many organizations as possible. He credits this advice for shaping the trajectory of his college experience.

“I remember getting so many emails for general body meetings for every [organization] that I signed up for and I attended so many to try and find my footing,” he said. “The one organization that I have to largely credit for who I am today is this brilliant organization known as Model UN.” 

The University of Miami’s Model United Nations Team exposes students to research opportunities to address policy concerns throughout the world and to learn about innovative research methods. Team members also get to travel around the United States to compete against students from other institutions as they role-play as delegates from different assigned countries.

Through his hard work and fearless dedication, Chatterjee and his Model UN teammates won dozens of awards. Most recently, as co-president, he helped lead the team to 12 awards at the University of Chicago Model UN collegiate conference—a personal record. He also earned a Best Delegate award, given to the delegate who performs, prepares, and is the most knowledgeable in their committee. His leadership throughout the past four years has allowed the University’s Model UN team to ascend from a top 20 team to number 14 in the nation.

“I think over time, my greatest strengths have become public speaking and leadership,” said Chatterjee. “Finding my voice enabled me to seek out opportunities to speak on behalf of communities I feel very passionate about.”

As a pre-health student, he was able to use his voice to focus on improving health policies and overall health safety during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said this work is something he is truly proud of and will take with him in the next chapter of his life.

“I’ve decided to take a gap year—before enrolling into a medical/MBA program—to work in Philadelphia with a consulting company that focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Chatterjee. “As I learned from my classes here at the University, there is a severe underrepresentation of minority groups—especially in the United States—in terms of equitable clinical trials and I want to help change that.”