Student Spotlight with Jason Fernandes

SOCIAL LIFE: Jason Fernandes, the 2014-15 president of the executive board of the Social Planning & Events Committee (SPEC), knows a thing or two about hosting a good event. SPEC is the student-run organization responsible for social and cultural activities around campus, including film screenings, music performances, high-profile speakers, and Spring Fling, which was held April 17-18.

START EARLY: Fernandes says that starting early is key when planning for a speaker or musical event. “Besides that, I think it’s a really clear delegation of roles and specialization, like who’s going to handle what areas of the events,” he says. “Really, as an event planner, you’re just a communicator; you just liaise between all these different groups and you have to constantly send emails and talk to people.”

FROM THE BEGINNING: Fernandes has been involved with SPEC since his freshman year, after learning about the organization at an activities fair on Locust Walk. He joined SPEC Connaissance, which is one of nine committees in the organization, and the group that is tasked with bringing speakers to campus. He also became involved with the SPEC Special Events committee, which oversees events such as WinterFest and LoveFest, and in his junior year, became a director of SPEC Connaissance. In the spring of his junior year, he was elected president.

MEMORABLE SPEAKERS: Two of the most memorable SPEC speakers, Fernandes says, have been Retta, an actress from TV’s “Parks and Recreation” (“her stage presence is phenomenal”) and Matthew Perry, best known for his role on “Friends.” Perry, says Fernandes, discussed his acting career, but also his struggles with addiction. “We definitely want it to be the best combination of substance, but then also a name that will be able to sell tickets,” Fernandes explains. “Last year, we also brought Lilly Ledbetter of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, so we are definitely looking to add diversity to the types of speakers that we bring and the types of events we hold.”

FLING’S THE THING: Spring Fling drew more than 8,000 attendees. It included a concert headlined by pop artist Kesha and DJ Kygo, as well as a carnival on the Quad.

STRESS? WHAT STRESS?: Big events can be stressful—but it’s exactly the kind of energy that Fernandes loves. “I enjoy that stress of the day of the event, when 20 things might be going wrong and there are 20 different problems that pop up and you have to prioritize on the spot and you have to delegate and address them,” he says. “In order to compensate for the added stress, I become more relaxed and have to think very clearly. … I do really enjoy that in-the-moment event planner role.”

OPEN TO ALL: Fernandes says joining SPEC has been a valuable opportunity, where undergraduates handle a sizeable budget, plan events from start to finish, coordinate production, and oversee ticket sales, just to name a few duties. “Anyone can join, there are no barriers to entry,” he says. “I’m very grateful that I was able to participate in it.”

Jason Fernandes