Get To Know Your 2023 First-Year Class President: Mekala Kumar

Audrey Green ’27, Dahlia Roe ’27
Staff Writers

Mekala Kumar knows what it is like to adjust to a new place. After being uprooted from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina, she and her family evacuated to Houston, where she has resided ever since. From this experience, she knows how to find comfort in unfamiliar terrain, something all Scripps first years are trying to do now. The class of 2027 needed a representative who would not only bring them closer to each other but seamlessly integrate their wants and needs into the wider Scripps community. Especially since college is not a place familiar to most. Kumar can definitely advocate for the incoming class. In fact, her ability to adapt is just one of the many impressive things about our newly elected first year president.

This year, Scripps College had several worthy candidates for first year class president. Each proposed various goals and ideas that they wished to bring to the table of Scripps Associated Students (SAS) on behalf of the newest Scripps class. They all ran campaigns that called for a more diverse campus, a priority of uplifting student voices, and the unification of the first-years across campuses. They had proposals for collaborative activities, including bake sales, inter-campus events, educational workshops, and an increase in other student bonding events. The candidates also kept students engaged throughout the presidential race with pop-up booths, social media, and even giveaways.

Kumar chose to focus her campaign on inclusivity and approachability. She wanted to make SAS “a more casual place, where [students] can openly express concerns,” hosting town hall forums for new ideas and feedback, and hosting more inclusive events and parties for the 5Cs. She spoke specifically about connecting SAS and the student body more through the SAS social media platform, including relaying information to the student body through infographics and flyers.

Now that the first-year class has elected Kumar, she hopes to utilize the skills she acquired by being involved with her own community through representative positions at school, planning committees for homecoming and prom, being the founder of the Desi Student Organization, the president of the Student Activism Club, volunteering opportunities for a service project that worked to aid the Houston Women’s and Children Shelter with over 1500 menstrual products, and so much more.

In an interview after her victory, Kumar emphasized the importance of maintaining your cultural and individual identity in a diverse group — a skill she hopes to bring to a campus with many personalities, ethnicities, home turfs, and values. Her family is Tamil, from the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, and because she knows how important her own traditions are, she looks forward to helping others hold on to the things that are dear to them and joyfully sharing traditions between the first year class. While some families may look to assimilate using common American names, her experience was the opposite: “My dad, as an immigrant, wanted to name me a pure Tamil name in order to keep our sense of culture… My name is an extremely essential part of my identity because it shows the connection I have with my culture and with all my ancestors. My name comes from the Tamil word “megham,” for sky or cloud.” You may recognize her around campus, she said, with her “jhumkas, a necklace with [her] name in Tamil, and other pure gold jewelry.”

Outside of Kumar’s political and academic career, she has a passion for video games, from Pokemon to Just Dance. Growing up, she found that playing video games was a bonding experience for her and her sister, and as she got older, video games became one of her main hobbies. At Scripps College, Kumar hopes to return to reading and take up cycling.

Even before being elected first-year class president, Kumar involved herself with the Scripps community. She is a part of the 5C South Asian Student Association, the Asian American Sponsor Program, and the Scripps Comic Book Club. Most recently, she joined the Scripps College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Her sensitivity to caste discrimination, which affected her grandfather in India, where he became a crusader for the abolition of the caste system, will fuel her desire to continue his social work. At home and school, Kumar has a drive to bring people together, regardless of their backgrounds. “I want to make a lasting change in the world.”

Image Source: Frances Walton ’26