By Siddharth Shankar WG ‘14
Reflections of a sentient carbon-based life-form upon the completion of an educational program that trains its students on the art and science of acquiring large quantities of little green pieces of paper. The inescapable irony is that during the process, students willingly submit to ridding themselves of all green pieces of paper that they’ve accumulated, and yet describe the program as the “best two revolutions around the sun” they’ve ever experienced.
On my first day at my first job ever, my inbox was quickly flooded with farewell emails from people leaving the company. Perhaps I should’ve called them up for sage advice on my career, perhaps I should’ve been struck at the oddity of having so many farewell emails on my first day, perhaps I should’ve asked myself why I was checking email instead of working. But instead, I found myself reading each one and feeling a sense of pride and belonging. Each of these individuals had had a different experience and seen the company from a unique pair of eyes, but all of them seemed to feel that they’d had an unforgettable time. Every single one of them wrote that as they moved on, more than anything, it was not the brand, building or the email address, but the people that they would miss the most – because the people made the place special. At once, I felt a lot of hope for my future and also a little fear. Would my own experience also be equally memorable? How would I feel when I was ready to leave?
In 2012, as I sat at my desk on my last day at work, composing my own farewell email, I had my answer. Not only had time flown quickly since my first day, my feelings at that moment seemed to echo the sentiments reflected in all those farewell emails I’d read then. In addition, I felt a sense of anxious hope for the future. Soon, I would be joining 849 tremendously talented people on a journey of a lifetime – one that would transform me in ways that I couldn’t even fathom. Success, then, was mission critical. Would I make close friends AND cultivate a broad network? Would I fit in AND stand out? Would I have fun AND achieve my aspirations? Unsurprisingly enough, my first day at Wharton was like a sequel to my first day on the job – also starring Hope and Fear. Hope was instantly recognizable (I hoped that I’d waive Stats), but Fear had a new avatar (FOMO on any opportunity I laid my eyes on). The story unfolded slightly differently from script – my hope for a statistical reprieve was soon shattered through an interval where my confidence was no longer significant, and my fears on missing out were soon naturally overtaken by that great natural leveler… sleep.
Fast forward to the present as I write this, and I’m overcome as much by the bittersweet culmination of an incredibly memorable ride, as by the excitement of what lies ahead. I find myself recalling the words of a 2Y last year who had said, “It’s all about the people you meet here.” Whether it’s the professors I’ve had the privilege of learning from; or the industry leaders I’ve had the fortune of meeting and listening to; or the wonderful staff, I count myself to have been incalculably lucky to have had such a tremendously rich time in school.
But more than anyone else, my greatest note of gratitude is to you, my classmates. I’ve been humbled 849 times over – each time I’ve witnessed the immense talent, passion and resolve that I see in people with whom I’ve been blessed to have had spent two years with. After every in-class comment and presentation I’ve heard, every extra-curricular performance I’ve witnessed, every time I’ve served under someone’s leadership, I have had my mind blown by how much talent and potential this class truly encompasses. To say that I’m humbled to be part of this class is about as much of an understatement as saying that winter this year was… cool.
Since success, fame and fortune aren’t in any doubt in the future stories of a class such as ours, my prayers are instead for happiness in our personal lives. I wish that the bonds that have formed over these past years will strengthen over our lifetime into a living memory that continues to enrich and enhance our lives endlessly. On Sunday afternoon, while we take those few steps towards a new beginning, let us take a moment to soak all that’s transpired and cherish the wonderful people around us who’ve transformed our lives. Forever.