Anika Sridhar, BSBA 2023, was the student speaker at the undergraduate programs graduation recognition ceremony on May 14, 2023, selected by her peers. She soon begins a new position as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs in New York City. Here is what she had to say to her fellow graduates.
What exactly does it mean to change the world? As students of business, many of us hope to have a great societal and economic impact. I myself will be leaving Olin emboldened by the privilege of my education and optimistic about the prospect of effecting change.
But what does change really look like? Well, two years ago, I never would have imagined a world in which 1,000-plus people would congregate to celebrate university graduation. And I could not be more honored to stand up here today, addressing you all. And a special thank you to the mothers in the audience, who have so graciously decided to spend their Mother’s Day here with us.
To the Olin Class of 2023, a big congratulations is due. We remained resilient amidst a global pandemic and continued to believe that one day we would get to walk this stage.
We are the final group that knows the “old WashU.” No class below us will understand when we reminisce over the Einstein’s Bagels in Simon Hall, the Ibby’s buffet during the week, the bird scooter crisis or the typical Thursday night going out to Big Daddy’s on the landing.
To all future generations of WashU graduates, these treasured moments are merely myths of the past.
Our campus has changed over time to reflect new versions of our community and society. However, it feels necessary to understand not only how the evolving needs of our society have impacted our campus but moreover how four years at this institution have transformed who we are.
When I came to WashU, I thought I knew exactly how to be a successful college student. All I had to do was follow in the path of high-school Anika! What did this mean? Develop my academic career around political science, join an a capella group, and make best friends during the first week of school, exactly as I had done in high school.
Well … by the end of my first year, I had been rejected from the a capella groups, had withdrawn from my first upper-level political science class, and felt as though I hadn’t yet found a group of friends I really belonged to. If high school Anika was the model for success, I was screwed.
It was, instead, the newness that I embraced which has most greatly impacted my college experience. I joined a few business organizations, not having a clue what I was signing up for or why I was doing it. Funny enough, that decision led me to meet my best friends, develop lifelong mentors, discover a passion for business, and eventually, during my fourth semester of college, become a student of the Olin Business School. And I can confidently say the skills I’ve developed in Olin will enable me to have a greater impact on whatever I choose to do in my future.
As we all begin to embark on new journeys, we should remember to think critically about every decision we make. Don’t conform to a version of yourself you once idealized but have ultimately outgrown. It is OK to embrace change, and changing the world may just start with embracing change in your own world.
As Albert Einstein famously said, “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”
However, while the past need not always define our present, we cannot forget those who helped us get where we are today.
To my family who encouraged me to believe in myself and explore new passions, thank you. To my friends who sat and cried with me through heartbreaks and disappointments and celebrated me during my greatest achievements, thank you.
To the Olin Class of 2023, who have challenged me to work harder in class, who have inspired me through creative approaches to problem-solving, and who also did not study enough for the MGT 100 exams and helped set a good curve, thank you.
As we go on to accomplish all the wonderful things this institution has enabled us to do, we must continue to support and uplift one another personally and professionally. When we hear that a member of the Olin community is seeking support, let’s make each other a priority because, truly, you have all changed the world for me.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023 and thank you!