On Harvard. (And Why I Love It)

Pathetic or not, I’ll be the first to admit that the only reason I remember the exact day that I CHOSE Harvard was because of… Will & Kate’s Wedding. That’s right folks, I made my decision the eve of the big royal wedding and when it was announced in the morning that the newlyweds would be called the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge, let’s just say I took it as a sign from above that I had made the right choice.

To be honest, at the time, I didn’t quite know if Harvard was just right. And now if you asked me I’d say: you know those decisions you make that you look back on and say wow– that actually changed my life. Well choosing to come to Harvard changed my life. In more than just I moved out- I started living on my own- tried the whole college experience kind of way. In entering Harvard, I entered a really special, really busy, really magical world. A world that I can’t believe I can call my own.

So every year on decision day, I try and stop and count my blessings because this place makes me feel so lucky, so very blessed. For those college seniors out there, CONGRATULATIONS– whatever you decision process entails, I have a hunch you’ll end up where you belong. And while I may be *slightly* biased, I want to preface this manifesto of love for this school that I myself was once both scared by and in awe of by saying that whatever next step you take, whatever next school you choose… make it your own. Take it in stride and really live college. Because it truly is a most wonderful 4 years– and this coming from someone who’s only halfway through!

And if I can be so lucky to sway you at all, here’s just a roundup of the top 5 things I count among my blessings here at Harvard each decision day (and every other day in between 🙂

1. Hours-long meal conversations. Being here I’ve realized that it won’t always be easy to just walk 5 minutes from my room to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. Visiting new dining halls, soaking in conversation– both inane and intellectual– and just spending hours with close friends is something I love about Harvard life, something I’ve found myself doing even more as I’ve entered my residential house.  

My blocking group at dinner in Boston– one of our favorite things to do!

2. It’s hard looking from high school to know what exactly the Harvard experience entails. But when you’re in Jerusalem and you see your professor and an IOP Fellow (with whom you just had a conversation with literally the other day!) advising the president or interviewing someone on CNN… and when you realize that at your school you can just go up and talk to those people… well, it sort of still blows my mind. The ability to sit in the room with amazing people and learn from them, observe them, and work with them is not one afforded to most students, but it’s one I am constantly in awe of.

During my freshmen year, social entrepreneur, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, and Grameen Bank Founder Muhammad Yunus TAUGHT one of my social entrepreneurship classes. And then my twin sister and I got to talk with him. Life made. All in a day of school 🙂

3. Support Systems. This past weekend two of my roommates were in a dance show called Eastbound... and my whole blocking group showed up to cheer them on. Being in a room hearing so many people cheer their friends on always reassures me that I’m not just in school, but too a community.

The people you can sled down stone steps with are often the people you can count on for just about anything 🙂

4. Incredible Views. The river at sunset from Mather House is one of my favorite things to take in. Always.

One of my favorites, a ‘purple sunset’– all from the comfort of my dining hall. Certainly makes you pause for a little bit!

5. A chance to push myself. Really push myself.

And this one takes a little more explaining. When I chose Harvard, I chose it not because it was the perfect fit for me– in fact, if I’m being completely honest, I was bouncing between so many schools at that time it was hard to keep one school straight from the other. But one thing really struck me about Harvard. It was the sense, the feeling that there was the chance, the capacity, the wherewithal to dare the standard… to dream. I’m surrounded by students here who have amazing ideas, incredible aspirations– and the crazy beautiful thing about this place is unlike the real world, Harvard makes you feel like you can do just about anything. And there will be people along the way waiting to lend you a hand and help show you the way. That feeling doesn’t just show up anywhere. It’s a sense of opportunity and unknowingness and possibility that can be scary and overwhelming and so incredible all at once. But two years after the fact it’s the one little feeling I still get that I am so thankful for. Being reminded daily of the many possibilities out there pushes me, drives me, forces me outside my comfort zone. And because of that I know that this place and these 4 years will allow me to grow in ways I never ever imagined as a high school student.


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  1. Jeanie Nguyen’s avatar

    I have those moments when I step back and try to breathe it all in while taking mental pictures – especially when I’m standing in the beautiful Harvard Yard! It’s so nice to hear that you take moments to appreciate what you have because this can definitely be hard with the Harvard environment which is super conducive to a fast paced life!

    1. ineshapremaratne’s avatar

      Thanks, Jeanie– you are so right!

    2. Hector Perez’s avatar

      This is a really inspiring thread you have here. You only fuel up my dream of one day going to Harvard, I have admired this college for all of my life and it would be an honor, a privilege, and, I could even say, a completion of my life to attend this wonderful university!

      1. ineshapremaratne’s avatar

        Thanks for saying that Hector, I appreciate it and encourage you to apply!

      2. McKenzie’s avatar

        Wow! This makes me really want to attend Harvard. Though I’m only 13 and this may seem like I’m looking too far ahead, I see Harvard as a goal. I want to do well in my studies because every A means another step towards Harvard. And one day, hopefully, everything I’m doing right now will finally pay off, and I’ll be able to attain my dream. 🙂

        1. ineshapremaratne’s avatar

          McKenzie, that’s awesome! I’m impressed that you’re only 13 and you’re already reading this blog 🙂 Go for those dreams!

        2. Tulisa’s avatar

          Your so lucky, I would have loved to meet Muhammad Yunus. You must have been so privileged! Good luck with everything!

          1. ineshapremaratne’s avatar

            Thanks, Tulisa. I absolutely loved Professor Yunus– he certainly is very inspiring!

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