Seniors reflect on college experiences

By Shubhangi Joshi, Contributing Writer

For the class of 2019, graduation is a time for reflection. Their experiences, struggles, triumphs and failures have made them into the people they are now and equipped them with knowledge to tackle the future. For Thilinie Bandara and Rachit Singhvi, the steep learning curve brought on by the challenges of being independent young adults has helped foster their confidence.

Bandara and Singhvi both credit Global Crossroads, the Living & Learning Community in PAR, as the place where they made their first college friends. The LLC promotes cultural diversity and connects people from all over the world, and won the title of Best LLC at the University in 2015. Bandara still considers the friends she made there her closest companions.

“(They’re) my go-to people that I’m going to talk to after college,” Bandara said.

Singhvi, who was initially disappointed to be placed in PAR as a freshman, was ultimately thankful for the opportunity to live there and be a part of that community as well. His friends from Global Crossroads have made him more outgoing and social.

Some of their most cherished memories in college also stemmed from their participation in the RSOs they were passionate about. Bandara was a member of the Illini Union Board, where she took part in bringing prominent speakers to campus, such as comedian Hasan Minhaj and #MeToo movement founder Tarana Burke. An avid tennis player, Singhvi built a network on campus by getting involved with club tennis, both as a captain and as a president. Club tennis also gave him the opportunity to visit and compete with other colleges in the United States.

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“Out of the hundred people that walk by you every minute, it’s nice to see one or two people that you know,” Singhvi said about the connections he made through club tennis.

One of the biggest struggles faced by college freshmen is the adjustment to college level courses, while adjusting to living alone and finding their place on campus. Bandara and Singhvi struggled academically their freshman year before learning how to manage time and prioritize.

“People used to only start studying a week before the exam and do well on it,” Singhvi said about academics in India, where he is from. “But here, you have to focus on your coursework every day and keep up with deadlines.”

Since high school, however, Singhvi has not only become more organized but has also matured emotionally, made a lot of connections and achieved academic excellence. Bandara also learned the important lesson of accountability, both in school and in friendships.

After graduation, Bandara is looking for a full-time job while making preparations to apply to medical school. Singhvi is considering graduate school for aerospace engineering. Ultimately, they hope incoming freshmen learn the importance of focusing on school and building time management skills, as well as the importance of making connections on campus and pursuing their passions.

“Don’t come into college thinking you’re picture perfect,” Bandara said. “Be OK with making mistakes because those are the most pivotal moments you’ll have.”

Shubhangi is a junior in Engineering.

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