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The Man Who Wears the Crown

Dhruv Sitapara. (Photo courtesy of Dhruv Sitapara)

And the winner is…  Drury University junior international student, Dhruv Sitapara, now holds the title of “Big Man on Campus” for 2017.  This title is given to the winner of the Zeta Tau Alpha sponsored competition benefiting breast cancer education and awareness at Drury. The BMOC competition, held on March 29, consisted of: a group dance, a formal wear portion, an interview portion, and a talent portion.  The Scoop sat down with Sitapara to get to know this recently crowned winner.

Sitapara is an international student from Surat, India.  He is majoring in biochemistry with a minor in behavioral neuroscience and is a resident assistant in Sunderland Hall.  Sitapara is also President of the school’s Student Government Association.

“His passion for the Drury community is incredible, and he works relentlessly to impact the community of Drury,” Sunderland Hall Resident Director Amanda Bollinger said.  “Whether it is through his role as SGA President, as an RA, or as a member of various other organizations, he advocates for the needs and wants of the students on Drury’s campus. Last but not least, Dhruv is a man of true integrity.  As a person, he strives to be honest, loyal, true, fair, just, and much more.  There is no better candidate to serve as a role model for the students of Drury as the Big Man on Campus.”

An email was sent before the event informing Sitapara that a Zeta member had suggested he be asked to sign up.

“I remember going to Big Man on Campus freshman year and thinking ‘wow, this is a cool event,’ ” Sitapara said.  “I never really thought about competing actually… but I got an email from [Zeta member] Makayla JD saying that I was nominated.”

After a long debate over what to do for his talent, Sitapara decided on a humorous dance to Total Eclipse of the Heart by Bonnie Tyler with his friend and fellow competitor Aiden Swiers.

“I did a lot of research on things that people could do without talents and I stumbled upon this video on YouTube.  I needed a partner to do it, and Aiden was doing [BMOC], so I was like, ‘Aiden, do you want to do this’ and he saw the clip and he was like, ‘let’s do this.’ ”

The dance included pink tutus, for breast cancer, pink ribbons painted on their chests, and a beach ball.

“Dhruv’s talent surprised me and made me laugh so hard,” freshman Lauren Pyle said. “I had no idea he was such a good dancer and he rocked that tutu!”

One of the most admirable traits about Sitapara is his passion for helping others.  After high school graduation, he and some friends created their own nonprofit to fund education in India.

“We try to help underprivileged kids so that they can go to school,” Sitapara said.

The first year, they did a door-to-door campaign and collected 8000-9000 lbs. of newspapers to recycle.  The goal was to help the environment, as well as make money from turning in the papers.  With the papers, they also collected over 1000 lbs. worth of old clothes to donate.  To raise monetary support, Sitapara and his friends wrote and performed a short play about the importance of education.

“We took complete responsibility for the education of around 50 kids the first year,” Sitapara said. In the second year, Sitapara said the organization instead raised money to benefit a boarding school for special needs children.  “We spent Christmas with them,” Sitapara said.  “We brought them gifts and we started a kind of food truck business and donated the money to that school.”  The business ended up making enough to buy the students new beds, as well as fund their meals for a time.  Sitapara estimates that the organization has helped 100-150 kids so far.

Sitapara is also very active with cancer research on Drury’s campus.  He recently received the opportunity to present his research in San Francisco at a national conference.  By growing cancer cells and monitoring what kills them, Sitapara hopes to someday help create a better drug to combat cancer.  Much of his research with Drury is done in his free time.  He says that he spends around ten hours a week doing cancer research, and he has since he came to Drury, despite not having the option in his schedule to receive the research credits for it.

“I’ve never done it for the credit,” Sitapara said.  “I did it because I liked it.  It’s really fascinating to me.”

Throughout the Drury community, many people were excited to hear that Dhruv won the crown.

“Dhruv is the type of person that is hard to sum up in just one statement,” Bollinger said. “He is the perfect representative for Big Man on Campus because of his heart, passion, and integrity.  Dhruv has a heart that cares for people deeply.  He is accepting and supportive to the fullest of every person, and he does all he can to show that he cares.”

As surprised as he was to win, Sitapara jokingly claims, “I’ve always wanted to win a pageant, I guess, and I’ve crossed that off my bucket list now.”


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