Sunday, June 10, 2012


Graduation day - June 8, 2012. Degree - Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. I don't think it's quite hit me yet that I've graduated from MIT.

Above: Procession down Killian Court.

Commencement day started early for graduates, who had to check in to an assigned station and wait for two hours before the administrators finally let us out to walk towards Killian Court, where the ceremony was being held. Salman 'Sal' Kahn, our youngest Commencement speaker and founder of the online Khan Academy, humorously joked about MIT love relationships and likened MIT to Hogwarts, which brought laughs and settled my nerves quite a bit. ("Because sometimes, what we do is considered by the rest of the world to be magic...") And as this was also Susan Hockfield's last Commencement, having her say "...Today I'm graduating with you" nearly shook me to realization that I was really, truly, graduating.

When it was my turn to shake her hand, I gave her a strong shake, a 'Thank you' and a nod, and walked, stunned, down the aisle, past the cameras, past the other graduates, back to my seat. Only when I sat down and took a good look at my diploma did I notice the fluttering of my insides and the shaking of my hands. This was it - this little paper was symbolically everything I had worked for in the past 4 years.

But, through it all, the whole event was really baking hot. Under a smoldering midday sun, we had walked down Memorial Drive to Killian Court, only to sit for a few more hours in our heat-collecting black gowns. Several people even shed their gowns and only put them back on when it was their turn to walk. The event runners were thoughtful enough to provide bottles of water for us graduates, who had to sit in the open field with no tree shade or white awning. Since I sat on the end of a row, I started noticing, amusingly, that the volunteers roaming the aisles passed out bottles of water almost as frequently as names were being called on stage.

Probably the most amusing thing I noticed, and family and friends have also commented on, happened later in the ceremony. Whether it was the heat of the day, the wisps of rain clouds that started hovering near the end of the ceremony, or the impending late projected time of event completion, the announcers started calling out the names much quicker. My department was called early, and I remembered having to wait about 5-6 seconds before my name was called. But sometime close to the end, they were waiting only 1-2 seconds, if any at all. My guess goes to the rain - after a few gray strands passed and no rain fell, the announcers slowed down a bit.


The night before Commencement, I couldn't sleep much, mostly in anticipation. I remember lying in my bed and wondering how I had managed to get through all 4 years. I definitely had doubts in the beginning of whether I'd survive at all. There have been definitely times when I have cried, and times when I strongly doubted myself. However, I was fortunate enough to have had many good memories here that trump much of the bad - good memories that I owe most to the friends I've made in the past 4 years.

It's times like these that I'm truly grateful for inventions like email and Facebook. After meeting and befriending such a diverse group of people on campus, I'm really glad I can instantly stay in touch with all of them. Censorship, firewalls and network connections aside, the fact that our relationship can best borders and oceans really makes me feel that MIT wasn't just in my past, but will also be with me wherever I go.

Above: Under the awning, some of the most powerful wizards of our technological time!

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