A voice for international students

Shehzad Lokhandwalla with other students

Shehzad Lokhandwalla has visited more than 30 countries around the world, but leaving India to attend college in the U.S. was still a little scary at first: a new culture, new customs and the anxiety of making new friends in an unfamiliar place. If you had told him then that he would become the voice of the campus’s international student body, he wouldn’t have believed it.

Mumbai-born and raised in Calcutta, Lokhandwalla always dreamed of studying in California. Drawn by Hollywood movies and college adventures shared by former classmates visiting home, he chose UC Davis and fell in love with its beauty and friendly nature. He found a safe haven in the Services for International Students and Scholars program when he first arrived.

“SISS was my best and biggest resource,” says Lokhandwalla. “I would go there weekly to meet other international students and ask questions. The staff is amazing.”

Inspired by his experiences at SISS and later as an international student coordinator with the Cross Cultural Center, the third-year computer science student was intent on building stronger ties across the small but growing international student community. He collaborated with SISS staff and other enthusiastic international students to successfully re-establish the International Students Club last year, which currently has more than 500 active members.

With the club’s encouragement and the support of mentor and recent alumnus Artem Trotsyuk, Lokhandwalla ran for and won a senate seat in ASUCD, the campus student government. He is the first international student to hold the position and is passionate about representing their concerns.

Lokhandwalla formed an international student committee as one of his first initiatives and is proud of his contributions to the chancellor’s undergraduate advisory board, which helped set the vision for the campus’s 2020 student growth plan. 

“UC Davis has opened a lot of doors for me,” says Lokhandwalla. “I want to help other students connect with one another and the UC Davis experience.”

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