Royta Iftakher pours her heart and soul into Brooklyn College. As a Macaulay Honors College senior, computer science major, Tow Mentorship Initiative mentee, and chief of staff of Undergraduate Student Government (USG), Iftakher taps into a wide range of strengths to make waves on campus.

As the USG chief of staff, Iftakher leads a bustling life, fostering a heightened sense of connection, community, and belonging among Brooklyn College’s student body. “I joined USG because I saw how passionate and excited their leadership was about what they were doing. They’ve continued to have so many ideas on how to get people engaged post-pandemic,” she says. “As part of the Faculty and Student Council, I helped organize a collaborative painting activity between students and faculty. I believe that it was a successful start toward our efforts of strengthening ties between students and faculty outside of the classroom.”

Iftakher’s people-person nature aligns perfectly with the role. “I enjoy talking to students and learning more about them, like what they do in school and what they’re passionate about,” she says. “I want to know what I can do to help people, and then bring those ideas to USG.”

Within Policy Council, which advises and provides recommendations to President Michelle J. Anderson on college matters, she is a member of the Faculty-Student Relations Committee. Iftakher puts her all into the committee’s mission to enhance the experiences of the students and faculty. At meetings, she proposes new ideas, such as how to balance club hours with class times. “I want everyone to benefit from the changes that Policy Council and USG make on campus. It’s important to me that students feel comfortable going to their professors and seeking mentorship from them, and that faculty understand what their students need.”

Although her academic and extracurricular achievements owe much to her seemingly boundless energy, Iftakher still values guidance from experts. Through the Tow Mentorship Initiative, she has taken advantage of unique mentorship and research opportunities.

Associate Professor Kletenik, who taught my game design course, asked me to be part of a research project on software accessibility in simulation games for cancer survivors with disabilities,” she says.

She presented the data findings on software accessibility at the Tow Research and Mentoring Conference in 2023.

“Researching the idea of an accessible simulation game was a perfect fit because it played to a lot of my strengths. Beforehand, I was unsure about my plans with computer science, beyond becoming a software engineer. The creative implementation of programming techniques appeals to my interest in the arts,” she says. “People might expect STEM majors like me to just like math and numbers, but I love art, too,” Iftakher says. “So I balance them in my life.”

“When I’m not drawing, I solve puzzles to unwind. Puzzles are similar to computer science, in a way,” she says. “Both can be frustrating. I’m not always the first person in the class to have the answer or the fastest to solve a puzzle, but I like putting time and practice into something and then get a rush of endorphins when I solve it and everything fits together.”

As Iftakher wraps up her degree, she is exploring internship opportunities, along with master’s and Ph.D. programs, and figuring out how to put the pieces of her future together.