Alfred University News

Alfred University junior serves as ‘President for a Day’

Alfred University junior Merveille Bulonza and Mark Zupan, University president.
Alfred University junior Merveille Bulonza and Mark Zupan, University president.

Merveille Bulonza, a junior biology major (minor in chemistry) from Buffalo, hopes her time at Alfred University will help her hone her leadership skills as she pursues her goal of becoming a medical doctor. On Wednesday, she learned much about being a leader while serving as President for a Day.


ALFRED, NY – Merveille Bulonza, a junior biology major (minor in chemistry) from Buffalo, hopes her time at Alfred University will help her hone her leadership skills as she pursues her goal of becoming a medical doctor. On Wednesday, she learned much about being a leader while serving as President for a Day.

The Division of Student Affairs Center for Student Involvement (CSI) and President Mark Zupan’s Office started the President for a Day program in 2018 as a way for the student body to interact with the president. Bulonza—who was selected by the CSI from among a group of applicants—spent much of Wednesday with Zupan, experiencing first-hand a day in the life of a university president.

After Zupan (in the role of student) attended Bulonza’s morning Religions in America class, Bulonza accompanied Zupan to a Leadership class that Zupan teaches. She and Zupan then met with two prospective students and their parents. Following a meeting with the president’s Cabinet, she and Zupan met with one more prospective student before wrapping up the day at Zupan’s Common Ground class.

“I listened to some student presentations at the Leadership class; it was very interesting,” Bulonza commented. “At the Common Ground class, President Zupan asked me to offer the class advice about being a student at Alfred.”

Common Ground is an extended orientation experience for first-year and transfer students, in which facilitators lead small group discussions and students hear the stories of their peers from different backgrounds. Common Ground was initiated at the start of the 2018-19 academic year, with financial support from the Alfred University Board of Trustees.

Bulonza learned that a university president’s position requires solid leadership skills, which is of particular interest to her. “One of the things I learned was the need to be an active listener. That’s what I noticed about President Zupan: he listens first, then offers his input,” she commented. “That plays a major role in developing leadership skills. That’s what I wanted to draw from this experience.”

Bulonza, who is a former Alfred University Student Senate president, said the President for a Day experience will help her on her career path. After graduating from Alfred, she wants to attend medical school and become a gynecologist.

“I want to work in a hospital and help women,” she said. “Medical schools are looking for students with confidence, who have leadership skills. This experience will help me get into medical school and will help when I am a doctor in a hospital leading my own team.”

Bulonza said serving as President for a Day allowed her to experience Alfred University from a different perspective. “As a student, you go from one class to the next, one meeting to the next, without really taking time to observe. This gave me a chance to really see what is happening on campus.”

One other thing she learned was that Zupan keeps a very busy schedule.

“I’ve been running from building to building and meeting to meeting,” she said shortly after wrapping up her one-day tenure as Alfred University president. “One question I wanted to ask President Zupan was, ‘When do you find time eat lunch?’”