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Introducing the 2023-24 JuSTEMagine Board! (Part 1)

By Siri Doddapaneni and Katie Picard

Every March, JuSTEMagine undergoes a major change. While the “out with the old, in with the new” applies to the change between winter and spring, it also applies to the JuSTEMagine Board. JuSTEMagine’s student leadership team oversees all of JuSTEMagine’s partnerships, chapters, subcommittees, events, and more. JuSTEMagine’s 2023-24 board includes Francesca Vidal, President, Siri Doddapaneni, Vice President, Ansh Mishra, Director of ESports, Meghna Adduri, Director of Curriculum, Aubrey Nguyen, Director of Technology and Art, Liam Garrigan, Director of Legislative Advocacy, Angel Bhandari, Director of Events, and Cameron Vakili, Director of Social Media. Each board member brings perspective, passion, and unique qualities to the board to help JuSTEMagine be the best it can be.

The 2023-24 President of JuSTEMagine is junior Francesca Vidal. Francesca oversees several aspects of JuSTEMagine, such as meeting with potential volunteers and Chapters, leading board meetings, and working with JuSTEMagine partners. Francesca has been passionate about STEM from a young age. “I knew I wanted to pursue a career in STEM as an engineer. I saw one day that my school was offering a JuSTEMagine club. While I did not know what JuSTEMagine was specifically, the message of spreading STEM made me very interested in joining the service organization.” said Francesca. Besides leadership duties, Francesca edits the Imagining publication, prepares a social-emotional learning curriculum in English and Spanish, and assembles STEM kits. Francesca is excited to work on expanding JuSTEMagine so its outreach and influence can reach students all over the country and the world. Francesca values passion as an important trait for a board member to have. “Sometimes the work can be a bit overwhelming, but at the end of the day, it’s making a difference in someone’s life. A huge reason why JuSTEMagine has continued to thrive is because of the passion and dedication that each board member has contributed to the service organization,” explained Francesca.

The 2023-24 Vice President of JuSTEMagine is sophomore Siri Doddapaneni. Previously the social-emotional learning (SEL) coordinator, Siri works closely with SPARK Positivity on their SEL projects but also works on several JuSTEMagine subcommittees such as the legislative advocacy team and the Imagining publication. Siri is passionate about spreading STEM and SEL resources to students who don’t have access to them, and always learns something new while working with JuSTEMagine. “I joined JuSTEMagine because I love community service and working with young students, and JuSTEMagine was a combination of the two and included my love for science so it seemed like the perfect opportunity,” said Siri. Siri believes it is valuable to be passionate about JuSTEMagine’s work so that each board member thoroughly enjoys and completes their work well. This year, Siri is excited to take on a broader leadership role, and expressed that she is looking forward to building new relationships through JuSTEMagine this year. “I am most excited about getting to know the new Board and getting to work with a new group of people with different perspectives and passions. I’m also excited to build new partnerships around the city this year,” said Siri.

The 2023-24 Director of Legislative Advocacy is sophomore Liam Garrigan. Liam is in charge of organizing and leading JuSTEMagine’s annual Legislative Advocacy Conference at the Nebraska Capitol as well as advocacy efforts in other Chapters. “I chose JuSTEMagine because I love the message that they spread about trying to bring STEM education to all students,” said Liam, who is a first-time volunteer with JuSTEMagine. Liam has previously worked with advocacy through theater, including assisting with a governor’s proclamation to promote Theatre in our Schools Day. Liam’s passion for advocacy led him to discover his love for STEM and wants to provide STEAM education to all students, no matter their background. Liam is looking forward to collaborating with other board members on STEM projects. Liam believes an important trait for a board member to have is a strong work ethic. “No matter what role you are in, you are going to have to work hard, and having a good work ethic will make all of that easier,” said Liam.

The 2023-24 Director of Events for JuSTEMagine is freshman Angel Bhandari. Angel manages JuSTEMagine’s Girls in STEAM program, STEM nights, and volunteer outings in Chapters around the country. “I LOVE to plan events so this role appealed to me from the very beginning. I really think getting to help Chapters reach their full potential is a great opportunity to have,” said Angel. Angel is passionate about girls in STEM and making STEM education accessible while expanding the amount of STEM resources available. Alongside event planning, Angel participates in legislative advocacy, STEM kit assembly, and the Imagining publication. Angel is looking forward to the April Chapter Event, where all of JuSTEMagine’s Chapter leaders come together to discuss their Chapter’s work and meet the new board. “Especially when communicating through emails and texts, many times ideas can come across the wrong way and be interrupted in different ways,” said Angel, who deeply values empathy and giving people the benefit of the doubt.

The 2023-24 Director of Social Media is eighth-grader Cameron Vakili. The Director of Social Media is a relatively new position, but Cameron incorporates his interest in community service with his passion for technology. “I chose this position because I am very interested in bringing STEM and anything in that realm to people who otherwise couldn’t have it or to people who weren’t interested,” said Cameron. Cameron is looking forward to being an integral part of a non-profit organization and attending STEM and Esports events. Cameron believes in open-mindedness and continuous improvement. “I think it’s important for a board member to be open to everyone’s ideas and to speak up with their own ideas even if they might not work. I also want to learn more about what makes good social media posts and make the ones I create better,” said Cameron.

The Board also includes Co-Founder, former President, and Advisor Jack Cenovic, and former President and Advisor, Claire Cenovic. "Each year, new members of the Board add new perspectives and ideas to our mission, allowing JuSTEMagine to diversify and become an even stronger, more expansive organization. I am excited to see the 2023-2024 Board’s new ideas, projects, and events. I hope to watch JuSTEMagine grow and thrive. By adding new projects and events to our already large palette of outreach, we will be able to reach even more cities, countries, and children, making our impact a great one." said Claire.

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