Time: 12:17 pm
Date: 23rd May 2023
Location: The Hotel at Oberlin lobby
State of Mind: Present, grateful, and ready
In my last hour at Oberlin for this season, I am currently waiting at The Hotel’s lobby. It has been exactly a day since my commencement 2023. Here is a quick glimpse into how I spent the senior week and the commencement ceremony.
Monday: I went for my last Oberlin therapy session and said my goodbyes to Debra, whom I will miss dearly. Bumped into my friend Nevaan for a goodbye chat. I ate my quick lunch before my professional photoshoot with Tanya Rosen-Jones (an alumna). The school offered me a free headshot for attending President Ambar’s ‘First 90 days at your job’ talk, which was incredible! In the evening, I got my ear pierced by my co-op friend and went to decorate my graduation cap at the ‘Sco.
Tuesday: I went on a morning run to the arb, which was very satisfying. I went to Thini Thai for lunch with my former boss/current friend Debra Herzog. We chatted about our lives over some delicious Thai food. She gifted me a sweet parting gift. Later that day, I finished some chores and did some packing, YouTubing, and just being!
Wednesday: I slept in, made breakfast, and packed some more. In the afternoon, I went for my senior research send-off, where I was given a beautiful red stole, a champagne flute, a book, and a cute plant. I reconnected with friends and mentors, shared snacks, and said my goodbyes. Soon after, in the evening, I met up with Anna Brandt, my former EF boss, mentor, and friend. Surprise, surprise, we met at Thini Thai; this time, I ate phat kee mao. We had a lovely time reminiscing about my initial years at Oberlin and the path ahead of me. Finally, I spent some time with my friend Nisha who hosted a singing circle. A few of us huddled around a bonfire, sang songs, and ate marshmallows until it was nappy time!
Thursday: I attended President Ambar’s brunch, for which I dressed up fancy and sexy in my pink casual dress. The brunch was packed with students. Unlike high school, I actually knew most of my classmates or was at least familiar with them. After some chatting, photos, and snacks, I headed back for the day’s second event. The Unity celebration was hosted by the MRC to celebrate historically racially underrepresented students. Here I got to announce my gratitude to my supporters at Oberlin. Unsurprisingly, it was a long list of thank you’s, yet there were so many more to say! Unity was a beautiful event that felt intimate and celebratory.
Friday: I had a mini photoshoot with my graduation gear near the Tappan Arch, Finney Chapel, and the koi fish pond pictured by a fellow Obie, Ankoha. Soon after, I headed to my rehearsal for the Baccalaureate ceremony; more on that below. Had my last meal at the co-op before my family arrived that evening from Mumbai, India!
Saturday: I went for another run on the bike path near the south side of campus this morning before the big event at 1 pm. The Baccalaureate is a celebration hosted by the Multifaith Chaplain David Dorsey before commencement. In this ceremony, I read some scripture from the Bhagavad Gita more as a symbol of the culture I was born into than my religious practice. It was a very serene ceremony with the mist of spirituality and sentimentalism floating in the air. For the first time after a public speaking event, I didn’t feel a wave of anxiety. I felt at ease and present through all the beautiful performances and letters our professors read to us, the class of 2023! Later that day, when President Ambar complimented me on holding my ‘pause’ on stage, it made my day! In the afternoon, my family and I went to the lovely Baroque performance, which my younger sister Akshaya thoroughly enjoyed. We ended the day with a low-key dinner.
Sunday: My fourteen-year-old sister and I went to the Feve for some delicious Sunday morning pancakes and were joined by my friend Lola! We had a chill morning lazing in Tappan Square, loosely gazing at the podium set up for commencement the next day. After a stressful day of packing, we went to the illumination celebration. The illumination ceremony was beautiful as usual, where the town and the college celebrated new beginnings!
Monday: The big day was finally here! I woke up at 7 am, ate some breakfast and got ready for the final celebration of this season. I wore my beautiful orange dress in which I have lived many different seasons of my life at Oberlin. As I walked through Tappan Square speckled with black gowns and big grins, I felt immense pride and gratitude. It was as if the air around Oberlin was celebrating me and my class. I couldn’t help but walk with a sweet smile on my face as strangers mouthed ‘congratulations’ to me. I bumped into my friends who were dressed ceremoniously and buzzing with excitement. As the slow train of graduates moved from Peters onto Tappan I saw Anna Brandt, Monique Burgdorf, and Debra Herzog, my friends and former bosses, and they excitedly hug me. As I walked down the professor cheer, Prof. Laurie McMillin popped out and gave a warm hug. All in all I felt very warm and held in my community. As all the seniors took their seats, I couldn’t help but look around at all that I was leaving behind. In just a matter of four years, Oberlin felt like home. After all the speeches, finally it was my turn to shake President Ambar’s hand. Ahh!! The moment where I stand on stage, I smile and soon become stardust! I walked off stage, and Christine, my boss/friend, embraced me warmly and whispered, ‘Congratulations, Aishwarya, I am proud of you!’ A few steps later, all my TWC co-op friends sprung out of seemingly nowhere and pulled me into a warm teary hug. Finally, I got my hands on my ‘receipts’ (haha), aka my Oberlin College degree. The rest of the event was filled with thousands of pictures of family and friends and many sweet goodbyes!
That was a glimpse into my senior week and commencement! As the commencement speaker, Richard Powers, said, “With every ending comes a commencement.” I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life which Oberlin has prepared me for with all the love and support from the community.
With that, this writer finally puts her pen down in this platform (perhaps!). Buuuut I will be available as a resource and guide through the alumni association for anyone who wants to reach out to me. I might start my own blog to continue my ponderings about the meaning of life ;) Thank you again for tuning into Aishwarya universe. Hope to stay connected on a different plane :-)
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