We find ourselves at the end of four years no one could have imagined—and we are at the start of a new stage in our lives. The precipice of change we have reached has both opportunity and risk, but every friend and experience we have made at Emory will be there to help guide our journey forward.
From the late-night food trucks during orientation where I met my future roommate to the weekly Farmers Markets I went to for more vegetarian options, there has been so much to enjoy outside of pure academics. Academics are necessary, but the other experiences are what make college memorable. Rewinding through the years, I ponder on everything I have done and been a part of beyond achieving a degree.
In reflecting on my four years of late-night dorm room and Zoom conversations, high-anxiety cramming sessions, and most importantly the countless exceptional people that I’ve met, I’ve found that our time at Emory has been one of constant change. We no longer have a hole in the middle of campus surrounded by a blue fence. Dining is no longer in a tent. And of course, classes have been online for over a year. Adaptability has been forced onto us but will be essential as we leave our undergraduate lives.
I see my time at Emory spent searching and constantly adapting to find what I am passionate about and relentlessly pursuing anything that caught my interest. Striving and seeking more at every step comes from a desire to create change. At the core of every decision I make is the goal of making an impact and forming meaningful relationships.
For me, that translates to where and with whom I allocate the most time and by far that has been to College Council. I can and have spent hours talking about student government, College Council and the changes Emory needs, which seem to be never ending. My love for improving Emory comes from how every change or initiative makes other people happier and strengthens the relationships I have with anyone I work alongside.
Leading through uncertainty has allowed me to create connections and relationships that would have otherwise never been formed. Over the summer, a joint event that I envisioned and organized was held on “Responding to Black Victims of Racist Violence and Police Brutality: A Community Conversation.” I remember the struggles in coordinating and trying to host my first virtual event on top of managing all the diversely opinionated organizations involved with the effort. Discussions and connections with the parties involved have not ended since then, and several events stemmed from this initial dialogue.
I know that the impact I have made will last beyond me. What I have done may not be associated with me, but the achievements will remain. Responding to student concerns is necessary and often as a student leader I have felt an obligation to speak up because no one else will. I distinctly remember a collective exhaustion in the fall semester as Emory was trying to make it through the first semester online. The repeated interactions I had with almost every friend made me realize the need to do something, so I did. I collected hundreds of testimonies with students’ frustrations and suggestions for Emory to see. I did what student government is supposed to do: I represented the interests of my fellow students and turned their concerns into concrete action.
Online course evaluations and syllabi access are structural changes that were implemented because of my advocacy. Ensuring that organizations will be able to spend unused money next year seemed essential to me, and I therefore educated others on the importance of making this happen. There have also been many other conversations started, but the real reforms require persistence and more effort. For instance, the campaign for Election Day Off will continue. Releasing course evaluation data back to students will necessitate more work. Having effective accountability on both the personal and governmental levels is a constant struggle, but it is critical for transparency and progress.
I want to add some final thoughts on how you make decisions upon leaving Emory. We have no control over what people say or what people decide to associate with us, yet we care. I urge you to focus on what you can do and what matters—the rest is a result of chance.
If you have found someone or something that will make you get out of bed every morning, hold onto that, cherish that. Find who and what makes your heart sing.
Aditya Jhaveri is from Brookfield, Wisconsin. He co-founded Remote Area Medical and served as president of the 65th College Council. After graduation, he plans to work as a consultant at Ernst & Young in Atlanta.