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1. Sro, you came to us from half-way around the world after leaving your hometown of Kolkata, India for the United States. What made you choose Rutgers School of Business – Camden?
When I was preparing for my SATs in India, I remember coming across a Fill-In-The-Blank in the English section which mentioned that some actor went to Rutgers. I kind of bookmarked the name of the university and forgot all about it. After the SATs, I started getting emails from colleges to apply to them. I applied to 5 colleges, all in the east coast and was accepted to all of them, but I ended up choosing Rutgers because it seemed to be the best fit for what I was looking for at that time. I had no idea that Rutgers was one of the best universities in the country, and I only remembered the SAT flashback after I was already here. In a way, it was meant to be! Initially the plan was to spend a year in Camden and then transfer to New Brunswick, but after three months, I knew that I didn’t want to transfer. I felt at home here and was part of a huge family. I had begun to grow roots and wasn’t ready to uproot myself and move once again. Cut to four years down the line, here I am talking to you about my journey.
2. So you mentioned the feeling of family and being home. What was it about the Camden campus that led to those feelings?
I think a huge factor behind that is the size of Rutgers – Camden as well as living and being involved on-campus. Camden is such an inclusive campus, everyone takes a genuine interest in you and your story. There’s a club for almost every interest possible, and their doors are always open. You just start to know everyone. Three months into my freshman year, I was friends with not only people in my classes or on my floor in the dorms, but also upperclassmen, and people whose majors were very different from mine. I got to know so many people by going to events on campus and being a part of clubs and organizations, I found myself knowing almost every other person I passed on-campus. The small student:teacher ratio also made it possible to build personal connections with the professors and other faculty. They know you not as a number, but by your name. They not only take the time and effort to sit down with you, but my professors also took interest in my internship and job search, constantly looking out for me and sending me suggestions for jobs that they thought would be suited to my interests. It is this unconditional concern, care, and friendship that makes you feel like you are a part of a family.
3. I’m sure you became pretty involved on-campus if you felt that way. Tell us about your activities outside of the classroom.
I feel lucky to have been a part of several activities on campus from the very beginning. I have been on the e-board of the International Students Association for 3 years, serving as Vice President for the last two years of the run. I have also been an active member of Art Students League, Asian Cultural Society, the Marketing Association and the Writing and Literature club. From my first year here I have taken a keen interest in community service and volunteered at every opportunity that I got, whether it was the Day of Service during the Fall, MLK Day in the Spring, or the opportunities from the Honors College. I have painted schools around campus, cleaned the streets of Camden, read to kids at the Ronald McDonald House, and danced with kids at Molina high school. Each of these experiences have deepened me as a person and widened my perspective about life itself and the part we play in it. I also wrote for The Gleaner throughout my freshman and sophomore years, going from a staff contributor to columnist & editor. In addition, I look at working on campus as being involved. I’ve worked as an International student ambassador my sophomore year and then at the Impact Booth for the last two years. This gave me the opportunity to build professional contacts with faculty and staff, some of whom ended up becoming really good friends and mentors by the end. Being involved and taking chances also introduced me to a latent passion that I wasn’t aware of – Theater. The first day of classes in my freshman year, I saw an audition notice outside of my Econ class for a play. With no prior theater experience, I went out to the auditions anyway. I was casted in the play. In the end of my four years, I have acted in five plays, directed a one-act play, and been an assistant stage manager and props manager. If I had not gone into those auditions out of curiosity, I would’ve never realized how much I loved the world of performing arts, would have never declared a minor in Theater and would not be considering a career in marketing for theater and film today.
4. That’s awesome you were able to get that involved while adapting to a totally new culture. So, back to the classroom for a moment. You decided on Marketing as your major. What originally made you want to get into that field?
I was actually a Finance major coming into Rutgers, I always liked Economics and being a Finance major would help me focus on the Economics of business. But, two days before classes began I had an epiphany when I realized that I really don’t like Math, and Finance, indeed would be a lot of number crunching. So I rushed out of my dorm and into my advisor’s office saying that I wanted to change my major to Marketing. That may have been the best decision I have ever made. I like expressing myself creatively and in new ways. Marketing has really been the best call for me. The essence of marketing lies in innovation, always challenging yourself to think two steps ahead and constantly reinventing yourself. Every field needs a marketer. So, we get to do what we love, but we get to do it in an industry of our choice. To cut a long story short, I found my love for marketing out of my dislike for Math. It was an accident, but an extremely happy one!
5. Are you currently involved in anything outside of Rutgers?
There’s actually one significant thing I did outside of Rutgers which I normally don’t bring up in conversation. When I was in high school I wrote a short novel and it got picked up by an agent and was subsequently published in 2015, when I was a sophomore here at Rutgers. The book is called “The World Is Round Honey”, and it was about a 15-year-old boy struggling to find his true calling in life. I also have a blog by the same name, which is a collection of short stories and poems. My work is not about anything essential in life or grand days of life, I write about slower days and smaller moments which pass us by unnoticed. There is such unsung poetry in those moments and that is the chord I want to strike.
6. What has surprised you most about Rutgers – Camden from the time you arrived?
Rutgers has been a series of surprises since the time I’ve arrived. I had never expected to be welcomed so warmly, make so many friends, have life changing relationships, and find mentors in professors who taught me from their own personal experience. I never expected to find myself in such a new light or to graduate with such high honors. The biggest surprise of all might be on the day of commencement itself, when the award of being an “Outstanding Senior” was conferred on me, I was absolutely taken by surprise when they called my name out in front of the entire stadium.
7. Well you are certainly a fantastic representation of our international students here in Camden. What is a piece of advice you would give to others looking to make the leap to education in the United States?
Thank you, that’s kind of you! If I had to give a piece of advice to someone planning to come to the US for a college education, I would say do it! This is an opportunity so many people dream of, and if it has come knocking your way, welcome it with open arms. Come with hopes, dreams, a heart full of courage and a will to work hard. Leave your fears and inhibitions behind. Stay true to your roots, but don’t be afraid to immerse yourself in a whole new culture that is a way to share your culture and your story with others too. Coming to Rutgers – Camden has been the best decision life has taken for me. I have grown exponentially, and in ways I could have never if I stayed in Kolkata with my parents. It is no doubt difficult to live so far away from your family and everything that you know as your own, but on the flipside you gain a whole new life and have the opportunity to build it up just how you want. I wish you all the best for your endeavors, stay open to all options and chase your curiosities. You’ll have great adventures lying in wait for you!