Seven questions with Smera Kumar
6 May 2016
This week, we put seven questions to Smera Kumar, a second year BASc Arts & Sciences student, who is also co-founder of the UCLU Yoncé Appreciation Society.
Why are you interested in this subject and what do you plan to do in the future?
Having dropped out of a very intense vocational degree, I took some time out to re-evaluate what I actually wanted to study and the answer was a bit of everything! As a result, the BASc was a perfect fit for me.
The interdisciplinary way of thinking is especially prevalent in our society today, where the skills you learn from your chosen courses are more important than the subjects themselves. As for the future, I’m still undecided but I’m open to a breadth of opportunities – although I don’t think I will confine myself to one career path.
What is the most interesting thing you’ve done, seen or got involved with while at UCL?
This year, I co-founded the UCLU Yoncé Appreciation Society with my course mate Stella Guesnet and it’s been a challenging, but fantastic, year being president.
We were met with a lot of scepticism at first, but with more than 650 people signing up to our mailing list at Freshers Fair and a 50-strong current membership, I think the hard work has really paid off.
Of course, the first year is always the toughest, but I have faith that next year’s committee will be able to grow the society to the next level.
We’re not just crazy fanatics who sit around listening to Beyoncé – although that’s more than welcome as well. We want to gather people together who are fans of Beyoncé’s music, style and ideology so that, as a society, we can collectively further issues close to the musician’s heart, such as her views regarding feminism, equality and racial prejudice.
This year, we’ve had some great collaborations with other societies such as the UCLU Hip Hop & RnB Society and clubs around London who host Beyoncé-only club nights!
Whether you want to relieve some stress in one of our dance workshops, attend a talk on ‘How to be Fabulous’ or raise money for charity through our BEYWALK, the society is really something that can cater to all interests.
Have you discovered any ‘hidden gems’ during your time at UCL?
I don’t want to sound biased, but, honestly, I think the BASc is a hidden academic gem of UCL. Many people don’t really understand what we do within our degree but, when I explain it, I don’t think I have come across a single person who hasn’t said something along the lines of ‘I wish I could have done that with what I’m studying’.
Learning in a multidisciplinary way is so valued in today’s employment market, so I feel very fortunate that I have the opportunity to not restrict myself to a unitary way of thinking and it’s great to see that more and more UK universities are starting to see the benefits of studying in such a flexible manner.
We also get doughnuts every Thursday.
Give us your top three things to do/see/go to in London.
Drinks at the Sky Garden, Silent Disco at the top of the Shard and watching the sun set at Primrose Hill – can you tell I like heights?
If you were Provost for the day what one thing would you do?
Appeal to Beyoncé to come and speak at UCL – if Kanye can do it at Oxford surely it can’t be that hard?!
Jokes aside, I think I would work more towards getting powerful speakers to come to speak at UCL. We are London’s global university, after all, and I really admire the lengths that American universities go to in allocating their commencement speakers.
Nevertheless, this is something that needs to be discussed collectively with a student panel. I feel that with a lot of issues that students have expressed these past weeks, regarding rent strikes and other administrative issues, the frustration lies in the fact that our voices are not properly heard.
As Provost for that one day, I would sit with students to just listen and let it all sink in.
Who inspires you and why?
While I am inspired daily by the people who surround me – especially the brightest minds on my course who manage to juggle a billion and one things at the same time –I think if I were to choose one person in the world, by default I would have to say Beyoncé… (shocking, I know).
Of course, I think she is an incredible artist musically, but she inspires me as a woman who has gone to admirable lengths within a male-dominated music industry.
She has introduced me to feminism, an issue that, through the versatility of my degree, I have been able to gain further insight into. Despite her social status, her activism with organisations such as Chime for Change and her own BeyGood charity campaign stand as fine examples of how she is able to empower women globally.
Similarly, I hope to have done the same justice via the power that I have had this year as president and I hope our members are encouraged to do the same within the UCL community and beyond.
What would it surprise people to know about you?
The fact that I am not the most hardcore Beyoncé fan out there! Trust me, I’ve met people with who have her album covers tattooed over their bodies. They live and breathe Bey – and of course, there’s nothing wrong with that.
Whatever it is you’re obsessed with, embrace it fully and don’t let anyone’s opinion, good or bad, get in the way.