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Satvik Chethan is Bringing People Together

Headshot of Satvik ChethanSatvik Chethan is a community builder. He grew up in Mysore, India, and, for most of his secondary school years, intended to go to university in India. In 2020, he was accepted to several universities in Delhi but was unable to attend due to the country’s strict COVID restrictions. During his time at home, Satvik saw how much the pandemic was affecting his local community and wanted to do something. 

Lockdown was imposed pretty heavily in Mysore, so I started Sunday Binge, a social media account on Instagram for cooks, bakers, and other people disproportionately affected by COVID-19 to come together to cook and sell food. That way families could make a little extra money and hopefully help bring together the community.”

Sunday Binge acts similarly to GrubHub and UberEats, but instead of drivers picking up food from a favorite restaurant, they do it from a home cook or baker. While building this business, Satvik realized he wanted more from his higher education than the universities in Delhi could offer him, eventually leading him to UNC.

“My knowledge of American universities was limited, and every time I talked to someone about UNC they would always have amazing things to say about it.”

He found SILS as a freshman when he took Foundations of Information Science with Ryan Shaw. He enjoyed the class but openly admits that he came to UNC intending to get a degree in business, so he could learn how to grow Sunday Binge. 

“I realized the potential for this business is much greater than I originally intended. In India, many women still stay at home, so if I could bring this business to the entirety of India, it could provide extra income for a lot of families.”

However, when he found out as a sophomore that if he received a degree in a STEM field his visa would be extended from four years to seven, Satvik immediately saw an opportunity to continue taking information science courses. He is now double majoring in business and information science and has loved how personable the professors are and how much he has learned from them outside of standard classwork.

I’ve heard many personal stories from a ton of professors, which is great. I value listening to people’s life experiences and learning from them, so I’ve had a lot of fun so far while pursuing this degree, and the technical experience it gives me is great in connection with my business degree.”

One of the things he’s had to navigate as an international student is learning about the USA’s healthcare system. A surprise bill from an urgent care center was one of the experiences that motivated him to start thinking about creating an International Students Organization (ISO) on campus. He remarked how surprised he was that there was not one already, since students like him often encounter challenges navigating systems like course registration and financial systems.

The process for creating the ISO started last semester, when Satvik and his current co-president Jim Appiah met with an International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS) advisor, as they both had sent in proposals at the same time to start an ISO in partnership with the ISSS.

“It was all just fate that we wanted to start this at the same time. So many people are coming to UNC from all over the world, and don’t know this is supposed to work. We both wanted to bring those people together and help them.”

The organization officially started this semester and plans to run social events bi-weekly, as well as provide information for international students that will help them in their professional and academic lives. 

“For this term, our major goal is to establish ourselves as an organization. We want to work towards having an international festival at the end of April, with food and games people may have never heard of and show how culture and art supersede borders. In the fall is when we start bringing international students in and helping them navigate their first term at college.”

The ISO hopes to match these new students with peer mentors who can help them get bank accounts, SIM cards, social security numbers, and other necessities for life in a different country. But that’s a goal for the fall. For now, it’s about the community here on campus, and how to bring a piece of home to a place thousands of miles away. 

To me, all of this is about bringing people together to celebrate their cultures. For people here to speak in their native tongue is a pleasure like no other, it just unlocks a part of their heart.”



By Will Hassell

Communications Student Intern

Related Programs: Bachelor of Science in Information Science (BSIS)