Seniors Speak: Make Your Mark

Designed by Sohum Gupta

One of the sections included in the annual Senior Edition is a series of essays titled Seniors Speak. These works are written and submitted to The Acronym by members of the graduating class, allowing them to reflect on their experiences, share advice, and advocate for change. The writer of this piece is Neil Wary (Stanford ‘22), who lived in 1504 and was involved in music, research, and bool’n.

As humans, we serve no objective benefit to the universe. We are just biological matter existing in space. Decisions boil down to chemicals in our brain firing one way and not another. Yeah, I know. Kind of existential. But hear me out! If this is all true, then what is our purpose?

I think our privilege level is one place where we can find our purpose. Looking at socioeconomic privilege, it is apparent that more affluent families often produce children that are high achieving and that attend the nation’s most prestigious institutions of education; whereas families that are less affluent have a harder time accessing those same opportunities. Are all affluent families privileged? What about the parents who started from nothing and worked tirelessly to get to where they are today? I would argue that many people overlook hard work and assume privilege whenever they can. Just because someone is rich doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to empathize with those that aren’t. IMSA brings together students from all different sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds. We have families that are well-off from generations of inheritance, to families that struggle to pay rent for their trailer home. However, when we arrive at IMSA, that socioeconomic difference disappears. We all land up starting at the same spot, and the playing ground is leveled.

I think it’s absolutely incredible that IMSA provides the same top-quality opportunities to all students – regardless of socioeconomic background, race, gender, religious affiliation, or sexual orientation. We can start our own company. We can conduct cutting edge research. We can learn and teach what we learned to our heart’s content. But what I’m trying to say is, do these opportunities that we were so graciously offered mean anything? Let’s take a look at the IMSA mission statement: “to ignite and nurture creative, ethical, scientific minds that advance the human condition.” As a student at the Academy, should we use this mission statement to define our own purpose? We were given this opportunity to study at this unique learning laboratory, use resources that are rarely given to high schoolers, to make an impact in the world. Why is it that we spend 3 years here not doing that? Why do we always worry about our next test or our ACT score or if our college applications are good enough? Why do we spend our time being less happy than we could be?

I urge all underclassmen to remember this as you continue your next one or two years here. Seize all opportunities you get at IMSA. Take advantage of them. You’re privileged. We are all privileged to have gotten such an amazing education, to have these resources laid out in front of us like a Thanksgiving dinner. Go cure cancer. Go send a device into space to find different galaxies. Go create an app that will make us all Bitcoin masters. I think that when people have this sort of privilege, it’s time for them to decide what to do with it. It’s our duty as a public servant to make a difference in the world. What I mean is that this is when you decide what your purpose is.

Okay, you’re right. Easier said than done. Here, let me help you. It’s important to remember that there is a single point in time when you are remembered for the last time. What can you do to push that time as far back as possible? How will you leave your legacy? How will you make an impact?

Seniors, what did you do in our three years here? What are you going to do as we depart from this innovation incubator? Underclassmen, how are you going to leave your legacy? Will you take chances? I’m telling you to leave your mark here! Spend time doing what you love. Think outside the box. Try something new! But most importantly, enjoy it because you get to. Enjoy it because your brain chemicals want you to. Enjoy it because soon, you won’t have time to, and you’ll only have enough time to reminisce about it as you write your Seniors Speak article.

About the Author

Chandana Tetali
Chandana Tetali, originally from Naperville, IL, now resides in 06CDQ. Though formally the Editor-in-Chief ('17-'18) of the Acronym, other titles for her include The Master Procrastinator, "Shandonna," Charmander, Sinnamon Roll, and the second half of the Best Roommate Pair on Campus.

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