The people you choose

Photo by Blake Israel

I went to a fairly small high school, where I knew every student and staff’s face, full name and  even how many siblings they had. In fact, by the time I graduated, I had been in school with most of them for ten years. They all knew me too, of course, and every excursion into the school hallway was spent waving to everyone I saw. Those waves were the most wonderful part of my day. 

Now, my high school had a graduating class of 90, but my undergraduate cohort — students that entered Tech in Fall 2018 — had 4,521 of us, fifty times my high school class. But, I didn’t realize the gravity of this number until my first week of classes. Coming from out-of-state, I did not know anyone at Tech, and even after getting to know my FASET group and memorizing the names of the 20 girls who lived with me on the first floor of Field, I never ran into anyone I knew while on campus. 

Instead, I ate my meals alone in Under the Couch while watching Youtube, lost myself on campus after taking the Red bus instead of the Blue one and stayed largely silent from the moment I left my dorm until I returned. I went to class after class with not a single familiar face to wave to, and I realized my favorite part of my day was gone. 

That is, until I figured I would offer my experience founding a student newspaper in high school to the Student Publications office at Tech. Walking into the office, I was in awe of the wooden trophy cases, the archives stretching back decades, and the boisterous laughter coming deep from within the Technique office. When the Editorial Board told me my options were to write, photograph or copy edit, I knew the answer was copy edit. After all, the copy editors are the only non-staff members who hang out in the office all the time, and that is exactly where I wanted to be. 

I pretty quickly learned why we are called the South’s Liveliest College Newspaper, and I am so grateful for those people who took me under their wing during my first year. I will never forget you all helping me cram for Chem I tests, inviting me to parties and thinking I was a wizard because I knew how to operate Instagram. 

These were some of the best moments of my college career, and I cherish those memories. Not only did I receive strong support from the Technique staff, but they opened my eyes to what makes Tech special. 

While my small high school class meant that I knew everyone, it also meant that there was not a huge variety of people. It was so hard for me to convince anyone to care about the newspaper, but here I was at the Technique, surrounded by people who care about student publications more than I do.

That is what Tech has been for me — each year I meet more people who come from the most diverse backgrounds, and I meet other people who are more similar to me than I can imagine. 

I went from having five Indians in my whole high school to being on the Board of India Club Georgia Tech, the largest cultural organization on campus, with upwards of 1000 members. Each year, I get the honor of meeting a fresh Technique staff, with many new faces and some old ones too, inspirational peers in my BME problem-solving sessions, and wonderful faculty mentors through my research lab. 

As my time at the newspaper has continued, I have grown my Technique family piece by piece. A power-lifting Managing Editor with a brightly dyed mohawk, a cat lady Editor-in-Chief with the best shoulder to cry on, an Entertainment Editor who only wore jeans and boots or shorts and sandals, a Sports Editor with flowing hair only rivaled by his handlebar mustache and so many many more. You all have been my family away from home, more than you will ever know. 

Serving as Head Copy Editor over the last four years, I have realized I was right to think I would be hanging out in the office all the time. Not only do copy editors meticulously pore over the paper making corrections, we also are a constant presence in the publication office even when no one else is there. Maybe this was always true, or maybe I made it true. 

Regardless, I try to bring lighthearted silliness and deep conversation to every meeting and deadline. I feel lucky to have known the countless students rotating through the Editorial Board positions through the years. And, I am proud to be leaving my Technique family behind, closer knit than when I joined it. 

Tech, after all, is just the people you meet and the people you choose. I never learned the skill of choosing your people before college, and I am so glad to have learned it now. 

I am also so grateful that my people chose me too. I am graduating while surrounded by the most genuine, humble, thoughtful and intelligent students I have ever met, and they are both a result of and the reason why I have grown so much as a person during my time here.  

I would like to end with a quote from my most-listened-to song from 2020 according to Spotify. In “10/10” Rex Orange County says, “Cause, after all, I guess it all depends upon/The people you choose and where you’re from/If so, I’ve been so lucky, so far, it’s outrageous/I won’t complain.” 

And, as I leave the Technique, while I can find a lot of little things to complain about, I know I have been outrageously lucky so far. Now, when I leave my dorm to go about my day, I can be certain I will wave to someone. When I go back to my dorm, too, I will no longer eat my meals in silence. 

College can be very lonely and big, so thank you to every staff member of the Technique and every friend over the last four years who made my Tech experience just that much smaller and less lonely.