Editor’s Corner

Editor reflects on RPI years

This is my final Editor’s Corner. This Sunday, The Poly will be turning over a new slate and electing a new Editorial Board and new editor in chief. Staring at a blank document, cursor blinking, all I can think is, I wish I’d done more.

Since joining The Poly, I’ve written a lot of editorials on how to best spend one’s time at RPI. Join clubs, stay involved with the community, find what’s right for you; but as I write more advice, I end up rethinking my own choices, or trying to come up with improvements. There are a lot of things I wish were different:

I wish I’d joined an a cappella group.

My dad’s a musician. Growing up, we always had music in the house. I went to sleep hearing him play piano or practice trumpet. When I got older, I played piano and did competitions (until I got to college, when I promptly stopped practicing). I was never asked if I wanted to sing in church; I was just volunteered. So I sang in choirs, in pageants, and high school musicals.

College was quieter. I missed having music around me all the time, so I auditioned for the Rusty Pipes in freshman year. I made it through callbacks before I got nervous, and didn’t make it in. I told myself I’d try again the next semester, but I ended up doing other things with my time.

I’ll be honest. While I admire each a cappella group, I have a soft spot for Partial Credit, because they always seem to have the most fun with their shows.

I wish I’d studied abroad.

I took on two full-year terms on executive committees—one being for the Rensselaer Christian Association, the other The Poly. At the time, I didn’t realize what a big commitment it would be. I was excited to be a leader, make plans, and be on campus with my friends.

My last terms ended this fall. I hadn’t quite figured out that I would be left with a single semester of freedom before graduating. Studying abroad in early sophomore year is too early; studying abroad your final semester is a too late. Generally, there weren’t a lot of study abroad opportunities I could have availed myself of, anyway, given that most of them are engineering-oriented, but if I could, I would have applied to go to Singapore. Major-applicable programs aside, I’ve never been to Asia, so it seemed like a really good option.

Last spring break, I met a South Korean girl who came to New York City to go to art school, then promptly turned around and studied abroad in Europe. By the time she graduated college, she planned on having visited or taken classes in at least eight different countries. Secretly, I am kind of a little bit jealous of her.

I wish Jazzman’s had more seating.

Most semesters, my class schedule left no room for running downtown to chill at Flavour’s or any other coffee shop. So I stuck to campus. I liked studying in the Beanery at Sage, back when I had early morning classes, but I like Jazzman’s coffee and muffins better. Besides, Jazzman’s has the longest hours of anything on campus outside of the Rathskellar and Moe’s.

Darrin Communications Center is always packed with kids studying, waiting for class; they sit on the floor, lining the walls of the Great Hall, and a lot of them end up buying a snack. So why not add more seating and change up the atmosphere? The DCC is a well-known and central location on campus, and coffee shops are great for meeting to talk about projects, study, or just hang out. There has to be room for at least a few more tables in that little corner niche by the water fountain. Move that wooden awards cabinet, take out the fountain, and you could have at least another three spots. Also: There should be power outlets by every table, for those of us with spotty laptop batteries who still appreciate that study space.

I wish I had no regrets.

If I could go back in time, would I change anything about my life? I’d be sorely tempted to. But I think I can safely say that, although there are things I could change (or should change), I’d leave them be. The biggest lesson I’m learning is that every single day is a gift, and it’s important to make the most out of everything you do. The more time you spend dwelling on the past, the more you lose track of the endless opportunities the future has in store.

I keep having to remind myself that I can’t get bogged down in disappointment when things don’t go quite how I wanted. This semester, I was faced with the realization that no matter how hard I tried to be, I wasn’t totally okay. I made a lot of bad choices. I spent most of my semester in my room, unwilling to go out, even for class; unwilling to see other people; hiding away from everything. Any kind of social interaction became stressful. My grades plummeted. And yet, I was reluctant to go and ask for help, and consider that maybe I was depressed, that maybe it could be fixed, because that would mean admitting something was wrong in the first place.

But life didn’t end there. And while I may not have accomplished all the big dreams I had for this year, or last year, I know that I can work harder. I’m incredibly proud of what did get accomplished. I’m thankful for the friends I have, and for those I had before, and for the new people I meet every day; I’m grateful for the people who tell me what I could do better, and help me get to that point. And I know that my family will support me, and I treasure that.

So I’m happy, then, that I got what I wished for in the end, and that I have no regrets. The older I get, there are just more new beginnings.