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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

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‘Going to do something in the world’: friends, family remember Aryan Vaidya

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Months before that tragic day at Monroe Lake, Aryan Vaidya stood at the top of the Willis Tower in Chicago, his best friend Gus Weyand by his side, laughing and contemplating their futures.  

The pair, friends since fifth grade, had taken a trip last summer to Chicago. As they looked out at the city from 1,450 feet above it, they joked: Our names will be on a building one day.  

Aryan loved chess, books and finance. He dreamed of being a businessman on Wall Street. Aryan wanted to make it to the top in life; from high up in the tower, the city glimmering in the night, they could see all the possibilities for themselves. 

Aryan, a 20-year-old IU sophomore, often said he talked about wanting to leave a legacy, Weyand said. 

Aryan had his life cut short April 15 when a warm day on a pontoon boat with friends at Monroe Lake turned deadly.  

Aryan was swimming with other IU students when the currents picked up. The students in the water were pulled away from the boat. As they struggled to swim, people on the boat — including his friend Siddhant Shah — jumped in to help. But neither Aryan nor Shah resurfaced that day; Aryan disappeared in the water, and Shah drowned trying to save him.  

Those closest to Aryan remember him for his drive, dedication and generosity. 

“He was a really hardworking guy,” Weyand said. “I know that if he had the time, he would’ve gotten there.”  

*** 

Aryan was a student in the Kelley School of Business majoring in finance and business analytics. Originally from Mumbai, India, he moved with his family to Cincinnati, Ohio when he was 9-years-old. Sandip Vaidya, his father, said he always made others feel wanted. He called his mother every single night, and introduced himself to people sitting alone in the cafeteria at his high school.  

“He would make sure that he would pull you up in whatever way he can,” Sandip said.  

Aryan’s goal since he was young was to work in finance, his mother, Diptee Vaidya, said. He’d accepted an internship in New York for summer 2023 as a analyst at Piper Sandler, an investment banking company.  

Aryan’s work merged his love for business with his desire to help others. According to his LinkedIn profile, he was head of the development team at Scholars of Finance, a nonprofit that offers mentorship to undergraduate students by financial executives. He also worked as a strategy and operations intern at Brixilated — a Lego design company with philanthropic ties in Ohio — in the summer of 2021.  

At Sycamore High School in Cincinnati, he advised teams of students at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, where he helped raise more than $51,000 to fight blood cancer. In addition, he tutored middle schoolers while he was in high school and was a Taekwondo black belt and instructor.  

Aryan took a trip to Wall Street last summer to visit Goldman Sachs, where he hoped to work one day. A board in his bedroom reads “Goldman Sachs 202” — there used to be a “4” on the end, but his friends removed it in the days after his death, commemorating the dream suspended in time but always with him.  

*** 

Aryan had not only a great mind, but a great heart, international business professor Marty Pieratt said. Despite their short time together, Aryan made a lasting impression, sitting in the front row of class and pouring insight from his Indian culture into class writings.  

“It’s one thing about being a brainiac; it’s another about being an emotionally intelligent person,” Pieratt said. “He just had an aura of, ‘This is going to be a kid who’s going to do something in the world.’”  

Outside of school and work, Aryan loved Marvel and Star Wars, his mother Diptee said. He was a voracious reader of history and finance books, could list every U.S. president in order and enjoyed visiting history museums. He loved chess and even started the chess club at his high school. 

Friends and family alike remember his sense of humor, like throwing oranges at friends during lunch and shouting jokingly at Diptee when she’d accidentally call Batman a Marvel character.  

“It was a funny relationship with us,” Diptee said. “If I messed up, he used to get mad, and I used to like that.”  

Weyand said Aryan would sometimes take his phone when he wasn’t looking and put in the wrong passcode, disabling it for a few minutes just to mess with him. They’d have silly conversations, including a three-week-long debate in high school about the taste of pickles.  

“He was kind of a goofy dude,” Weyand said.  

Aryan was the first person IU sophomore Raghav Mittal met when he arrived in the U.S. as an international student from India. As freshman year roommates, they quickly hit it off and would often invite others from the floor to come to their room to socialize. 

“Aryan always welcomed them with open arms,” Mittal said. “Once everyone left, Aryan and I would stay up talking for an hour or so, no matter how late it was.”  

IU junior Rama Sardar met Aryan when she was 11 at her family’s housewarming party. The two were close friends for most of their childhoods and watched each other grow up. 

Sardar said she remembers Aryan’s kindness. When Sardar was in a car accident at 16, one of the first people to call was Aryan.  

He was her date to her junior prom, tuxedo-clad and grinning widely in pictures next to her. That’s an image still sharp in the minds of his family and friends — his sparkling smile and presence were contagious, Sardar said.  

Following his death, Aryan’s parents are working to examine safety precautions at Monroe Lake and advocate for better protection measures. These could include indicators in the water for wind speed and water temperature, and wristbands that can send out signals if a person is struggling in the water, Sandip said. Sandip and Diptee want to ensure what happened to their son won’t happen to another family.  

The legacy Aryan left, Sardar said, is bigger than a career and more than a news report.  

“He impacted a lot of people, in small and big ways, and it’s left a mark on a lot of people’s lives,” Sardar said. “That’s what I want people to remember.”  

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