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Student commencement speaker reflects on community, opportunities at IU



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Senior Krishna Pathak is this year's student commencement speaker. Pathak graduated from Carmel High School before coming to IU and pursuing a degree in law and public policy. Photo courtesy of James Brosher of IU Communications Buy Photos

Senior Krishna Pathak graduated from Carmel High School before coming to IU and pursuing a degree in law and public policy. He was chosen to be this year’s student commencement speaker.

Responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.

IDS: What is your major?

Pathak: Law and public policy. I came in as an education major. I was very gung-ho about teaching after school. Then I thought, "Well you obviously have a broader interest in government and public service," so the School of Public and Environmental Affairs seemed like a logical place. A degree you get in law and public policy would be a bit more universal than secondary education.

What are your plans after college?

I’m going to work at the United States Department of Homeland Security as an analyst. I interned there last summer, so I'm going back.

Why did you come to IU?

The second time I came here for a visit, around spring break of 12th grade, we were at the Indiana Memorial Union, and there was a Super Smash Brothers tournament, a hip-hop dance exhibition and in the Whittenberger, they were playing "The Hobbit," and I’m like, "This all happening in the same building at the same time, and it's all organized by students." Then it was clear to me this is a big school, and you can always learn something new and meet a new person every day, and it's much better than anywhere else.

What are you involved in?

I was involved in TEDx Indiana University in the past. This year I joined student government on the Supreme Court where I assisted with student academic and personal misconduct cases. I also do part-time research for the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education Dr. Dennis Groth.

What is your craziest moment at IU?

It was fall sophomore year, and I was in Wells Library at 4 a.m. on my third Monster energy drink writing a 15-page paper about Japanese defense budget policy. The craziest part was I did well on the paper so I was was validated in these habits, and the cycle continues.

What is the best part about IU?

It has always been meeting the people here. I was very lucky to come in with close friends from high school, but the people I met from outside of high school, to see who they are and get to know them and be introduced to their friends and ultimately making this circle. That happened everyday. That also extends to faculty who served as my teachers but also my mentors and just people to talk to. I think the community at IU was really the best part.

What are you going to miss most about IU?

Campus. It's so nice right now because it’s all green.

What is the process to get chosen as speaker?

Anyone can apply. You have to give an outline of what you want to say and answer some questions about your IU experience in a brief cover letter. I don’t know how many people applied. They pick six, myself included, for a final interview in April. You have to give a dry-run of your speech in the interview, and then they ask you questions about your general IU experience.

What made you apply in the first place?

I like public speaking, and I spoke at my high school graduation. In high school, they didn’t tell me I could have a script, so I memorized it, which is horrifying. It was fun but terrifying so I thought we could do that again, and this time you'll be able to have a script. I thought I’d be willing to toss my name in the ring and see what they think.

What are you going to talk about?

I don’t want to reveal too much. The general theme is the community aspect of IU and how integral it’s been to individual successes. The crux of what I hope to get at is after college, we will go off with our own lives, but I do call on them to pursue the wider issues facing our generation. Perhaps the biggest problem to me at least is growing social division in the U.S. What I call on in this speech is in our free time, we should pursue community service with underserved populations to better understand how these big problems will affect us. I call on them to want to do that. You need to want to do that.

How do you feel about the speech?

I’m not going to say I’m not nervous. I’m super nervous, but I am kind of relaxed because I know I can have a script.

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