Searching for my purpose

Searching for my purpose

On May 19 I will graduate. Until I decide to go for a master’s degree, my time as a college student will officially be over. All of the hard work and dedication I’ve put into my college career over these past four years will officially come to an end. It’s a bittersweet feeling.

I first came to Case Western Reserve University as an anxious and unsure kid fresh out of high school. This was a drastic transition in my life; I didn’t know anyone and I didn’t understand my place yet. I remember that first week being confusing, full of this overwhelming sense of feeling lost. I was no longer in the comfort of my home and I had to find my way around in a completely new environment. Add the COVID-19 pandemic into the mix and that first year was one of the roughest transitions I’ve had to go through.

Eventually, though, I did find my way around. I met a group of friends, began to socialize, opened up and discovered a good way to start off college. This was also when I found out that CWRU had a student newspaper, The Observer. I love writing as much as I love science and engineering; creating a story that other people can read—maybe even relate to—is such a fascinating process. Seeing the many thoughts that I have floating around in my head transfer to paper gives me a sense of accomplishment that I think is so essential to being human. In part it’s helped me find my purpose.

Whereas my first year started off uncertain, it ended pretty alright. I discovered a club and friends that reflect who I am as a person. Though, admittedly, I’m not a fan of the first articles I wrote for The Observer. They were too long—my first piece was over 2,000 words! (sorry about that one)—and focused on topics that I no longer have an interest in writing about. But that’s part of this weird, often strange experiment called life: You don’t know everything at first, and it looks like a dark, scary forest. Bit by bit, however, you meander your way through the woods. You might be spooked by sounds you hear in the distance, but it’s nothing to worry about. It’s just an animal also trying to find its way through.

My second year is when I joined the Editorial Board as development editor. The Opinion Editor during my first year, Jordan Reif, recommended that I apply, and so I interviewed with former Executive Editor Nathan Lesch and got the position. I was excited. I had been wanting to go further with my passion for writing—joining the production team seemed like the perfect choice.

I was also nervous. I never worked on a newspaper before. I was surrounded by a group of people who knew everything there was to know about the production process. But I still loved it and wanted to stay. I met a bunch of really cool people—Shreyas Banerjee, Sara Khorshidi and Karuna Lakhiani to name a few. It was nice to share a similar interest with everyone, even if I was shy at first. I would warm up, though.

My second year is where I met some of my closest friends at CWRU. I met my roommates, Niels, Aaron, Kim, Dimitri and JD—whom I actually went to high school with. I started talking to some of the people in my engineering classes and finally became acquainted with them. I learned the ins and outs of college life; it was a fun time. I can remember some of the fun moments we had: watching “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” buying a life-size cardboard cutout of Al Gore, throwing mustard packets all around the dorm room and staining one of my favorite shirts. Despite the lackluster housing arrangements and the prison cell-like rooms, I had a fun time.

The Observer also underwent a few changes. Shreyas took over as executive editor when Nathan left and the arts and entertainment section became the life section. This was the Editorial Board that I grew up alongside with, and it was fascinating to see it change. We published pieces on CWRU’s infamous housing debacle in the spring of 2022, and I even published a piece on how CWRU falls short. I like to think these were little baby steps toward making the paper more focused on CWRU life. Witnessing it all unfold made me want to take on more responsibility. I had fallen in love with student journalism even more.

My third year was all over the place. I moved back to North Side in The Village at 115th. I got a four-person apartment with Niels, Aaron and JD. I started to take more classes directly related to aerospace engineering. My college education was halfway over. I changed quite a lot over those first two years, but I would soon learn that my personal growth was not done yet.

The year started off normally, but toward the end of the fall 2022 semester my life suddenly changed. I went through a major loss, one whose effects are still evident even now. I was shocked, confused, unable to do even the most basic of things. The rest of the year is a blur to me. It’s hard to remember what I did when most of that year was spent in grief. This isn’t to say that the entire time was bad—I went to my very first concert that September to see The Black Keys—but it was difficult in a way that I wasn’t familiar with.

One thing that did stay constant, however, was the paper. I remember the week before I suffered the major loss: President Eric Kaler sent out his email to the entire student body admonishing them for the passage of the Undergraduate Student Government’s (USG) divestment bill. We published an editorial in criticism of Kaler’s statement, one of my favorites, aside from our recent piece on the Students for Justice in Palestine suspension, my personal favorite. Even during this difficult time in my life I still found a reason to keep going.

The following spring semester I changed my focus in my opinion writing. Owing to the mental health challenges I was going through, my articles reflected various mental health topics. My first article back, “The small steps matter, too,” was about the importance of taking on challenges one piece at a time. It was cathartic—writing on the challenges I was experiencing allowed me an outlet to reflect.

As hard as those months were for me, I think I grew the most as a person. Losing a few people that I loved made me realize how essential close relationships are. I am forever grateful for my family and friends for getting me past a dark period in my life. My roommates were a saving grace; they helped me keep my head up when sometimes I felt like keeping it down. I’m grateful for Kim for sticking by my side. She’s been a major guiding force for me this past year. They’ve all shown me what true, honest friendships are about. As a result, I’ve become more confident and have realized how capable I actually am. I’ve been through so much in just one year, and I still stuck through with it till the very end.

Now, I’m a fourth-year student on the cusp of graduation. I’m the opinion editor, taking on Karuna’s tradition of writing editorials at the last minute. My final year has been filled with a lot of excitement and anticipation for the next chapter of my life. It’s also been an opportunity for me to expand on the lessons I’ve learned. I’ve been opening up more, trying out new experiences—such as going clubbing—and building better relationships with the people on the Editorial Board.

Amidst the stress of my final year from my senior design project, the paper has been a nice refreshing time of peace. I can take a break from the technical work of my classes and devote time to write editorials and edit for the opinion section. I’ve enjoyed our social events, such as The Big Bounce America event last semester and our recent trip to Tabletop Board Game Cafe in Ohio City. All of the laughs and fun moments have helped give me a good end to my time in college.

I’m grateful for everyone on the Editorial Board, for all of the bright and motivated people I’ve met. Despite the many directions that my life has taken, the paper has been one of the things that’s been a constant. Every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. I can count on all of us being together at the University Media Board Office putting together the paper. I’ll cherish those moments for a long time I’m sure.

As much as I’ve had to say, it’s difficult to find the right way to say goodbye. I have so many fond memories of my time at CWRU and on the paper. Being on the Editorial Board with people such as Shivangi Nanda, our executive editor, Joce Ortiz, our director of digital media or Noah Henriques, our web editor, has kept me going. I’ll cherish the memories I’ve made with everyone, from the print team, digital media team, business team and design team, and I hope that in 10 or 20 years I can look back on these four years as the fun moments they are. I hope that I can make that same impact on others, too. It’s one of the reasons I became the opinion editor.

I’ll miss these years, as difficult as they have sometimes been. I know that in this next chapter of my life I’ll have many more obstacles to overcome and transitions to get through—but I’ve been through it all before, and I can do it again. If there’s any way to summarize what I’ve learned about my purpose, it’s that. Just keep going, no matter what.

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