Looking back at my four years here, I can’t help but be a little bittersweet about leaving a place that has truly become my home. Getting into Cal was a dream come true, and coming here was one of the best decisions I have ever made. This is the number one public institution in the world — and I am humbled and honored to have been a member of the Cal community.
I came to Cal with a blissfully naïve view of the world, and my time here has been an opportunity for immense personal growth and development. I came here not knowing one single person, and in a school so large, I was utterly lost. My classes were really hard, I didn’t have any real friends and people were not always nice. It took me a while before I realized that my attempt at “finding” myself was hopelessly misguided. I was looking for the MTV version of what college is supposed to be when really I should have been focusing on defining myself. Berkeley is about forging your own path, and the most valuable skill I have gained here is the ability to interpret the world with my own lens instead of allowing others to define it for me.
As the first East Indian student body president in Cal’s history and one of very few women to ever hold this position, my experience has been anything but ordinary. But the greatest lesson I have taken from my time here is actually really simple: say yes. Our curiosity and desire to learn is what got us to this point, and it is what will help us continue to excel as we go through life. For those of you who still have some time here, my advice to you is to say yes to trying new things, be open to different experiences and stop fearing the unknown. Too often we set limitations for ourselves and become our own biggest obstacles. Don’t restrict yourself with the idea that you have to be perfect all the time. Especially at a place like this, where we are constantly in the company of the best and brightest of the world — there is a lot of pressure, so step back and keep things in perspective. Your time here is limited, so don’t waste it living for other people.
And for my fellow 2012 graduates, as we are about to set out for the real world, I want to thank you for your contributions to Cal and for making my experience what it has been. Each and every one of us has something unique to offer and this school is better because of the mark you have left here. The opportunities and lessons that these past four years have afforded me are immeasurable, and I am so thankful for my time here. Congratulations to all of you, best of luck in your future endeavors and for my last time as an undergraduate, go Bears!