After four years, the class of 2016 has transitioned from students, to alumni. Six graduating seniors have reflected upon their undergraduate experiences. Shalvi Shah, from Ahmedabad, India, discusses her time at Emory. 

I didn’t start out at Emory aiming to become Copy Chief for the Wheel. It’s quite an unassuming, silent title that is only a part of my life here, and no one tends to listen to you even if you’re making sure they don’t put their feet in their mouths. That’s not to say I didn’t value my time there; I did, very much. My gratitude to Benazir Wehelie, my partner-in-arms, for always being there, either to help me or to laugh with me in delirium well past midnights.

For the most part, I have loved my time at Emory.

Anyone who knows of me is surprised I’m even graduating, but those who really know me know what I’ve been through and stood by me — I truly appreciate that, you know who you are. I have met so many driven, talented, amazing, inspiring, caring peers and professors here. I have interned at a national newspaper, made acquaintance with the Indian Prime Minister, had classes with ambassadors from at least four countries, been taught under two Pulitzer Prize-winning authors — not to mention Salman Rushdie — and discovered stories and cultures that will definitely feature in the book that I hope to publish soon. But the opposite is also true. I have met selfish, ignorant, materialistic know-it-alls who have had no qualms about stepping over those less fortunate.

It is this paradox that I stepped into, this dichotomy of being a college student in America that has shaped me as a person, as someone who initially came from the other side of the world and still feels like she goes unheard because people think their activism is more important than hers. People have been hearing, yes, but in that age-old sense, they have not been listening.

I implore everyone to listen.

Today, when mere labels spark intense debates and everyone wants to exercise their freedom of speech, it is important to remember to win wars with knowledge rather than battles with anecdotal facts. Take a second in this microcosm that is Emory to think, and then be courageous.

I have listened, I have learned and I have enjoyed. And I will never forget it for the rest of my life.