'If We Could Successfully Complete Our Degrees During a Pandemic, We Can Handle Just About Anything'
I am grateful for the many wonderful opportunities I had to connect with my fellow Chargers and to explore my passions at the University of New Haven. I wanted to share my experiences at the University with my fellow graduates while encouraging them to remain resilient while pursuing their dreams.
May 26, 2021
By Anika Saboo ’21 MBA
Ladies and gentlemen, professors, staff and faculty, and my fellow classmates of the Class of 2021, I am Anika Saboo, an international graduate student from India. I am proud to be sharing my experiences with you all. Before I begin, I would like to extend my warm regards and gratitude toward anyone and everyone who believed in me, supported me, and accepted me the way I am.
2020 was my year. I have embraced it. I take pride in sharing this message with you. I call this the epitome of graduate school. It is such an honor I could only dream of. Every step toward something new either makes us or breaks us, and the choice is ours. This is a land of opportunities, and I was lucky to have been able to seize the opportunities I’ve had.
Today is the day I envisioned when I entered the University of New Haven because it is a milestone that came my way very surprisingly. It was actually my dad’s dream for me study for my master's degree in America. Ever since, I have tried my best to do everything I can, to use my complete potential and capabilities in making the world a little better place. But I’m not done yet! I came here with no friends or relatives, but now I have a group of people I call my family.
'Tears of joy'
In April 2019, I vividly remember I was randomly exploring on Instagram, and I found the Indian Student Council page. I dreamed of becoming the next president of the Indian Student Council. I was later elected as the president right in the middle of the pandemic. I was very excited, yet nervous. I wanted to do so much more, but the pandemic was hampering the possibilities of any events in person, but nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from giving it my best in all possible ways.
Soon after my arrival here, I got involved with the Graduate Student Council because that was another goal for me. I joined the budget committee, and then I was recognized as a person with an eye for details. I later ran for the vice president of finance position, and I remember weeping when the results were announced because I think that's how it feels when dreams come true.
Every step toward something new either makes us or breaks us, and the choice is ours. This is a land of opportunities, and I was lucky to have been able to seize the opportunities I’ve had.Anika Saboo ’21 MBA
I was also elected as the treasurer of the University’s Women in Business Club, a club that will be very close to my heart because I will always be among its founding members.
I was also the co-chair for Global Student Leaders, an initiative run by the International Services Office to bring globally diverse students together to work on different projects for the welfare of our peers. All these achievements are stepping stones before I step into the real world. Every little encounter and life experience I have gained at the University has been enriching, and they will remain lifelong memories.
With every position I have achieved, I have had tears of joy. I was the graduate assistant for the International Services Office, a place that will always stay close to my heart because it is home to the University’s international students. I also served as a graduate assistant with Graduate Students Services, enabling me to expand my horizons and assisted as many graduate students as I could.
'This university has given me more than I could ever wish for'
The best thing about the education I have had is that they let you choose your own speed, and you are not judged solely by your GPA. The various current-issue case studies, group work, research projects, and assignments all helped me develop valuable skills.
The global pandemic has robbed us of defining moments in our lives: school trips, final sports seasons, winter galas – just to name a few. Feelings of anger, anxiety, or sadness we might have are justified, and it’s important that parents, friends, and loved ones don’t try to minimize or dismiss those emotions. Being forced to forfeit public celebrations of our hard work and accomplishments is no small price to pay.
We are living in a historic time. And while that may not provide much comfort to the Class of 2021 when we consider all that we are missing during this global pandemic, history has taught us many important lessons. The past teaches us that just about every successful person or project has had to overcome some form of adversity. Our generation of students – the post-Millennials – is on track to become the best-educated and most diverse group in history, according to a recent study by The Pew Research Center.
This university has given me more than I could ever wish for, and I am very thankful for it. And, yes, all this happened for me in 2020!
Most importantly, we all must find meaningful ways to recognize the smallest of our achievements because COVID-19 is an invisible force, with no tangible place to direct anger or resentment.
'The sky is the limit'
There’s a moment in every graduation speech where the speaker reminds everyone to unify in maintaining their lofty ideals and to always treat people with kindness. They’ll say that the world is ours if we’re brave enough to chase after it, and that dreams come true if we work hard. This is all true, but not what I need to hear right now and not what I want to pass on to you.
My message is simple: Be upset, stay confused, wallow for a little bit, text your friends about how much something annoys you, and post throwback pictures with sappy captions about exciting travels and championship games. We can make our own transition period. We’re all pretty scared, and we’re all entitled to feel that way. Sharing these sentiments will remind us we’re in this together as we move forward.
Let the problem have its place and then move on, whenever that may mean for you. So, here’s to us. We started from the bottom, and we might still be at the bottom. But I suppose we can only go up from here. If we could successfully complete our degrees during a pandemic, we can handle just about anything else.
I can truly say that success starts at the University of New Haven. I am a very proud Charger, and now an alumna! CONGRATULATIONS to the Class of 2021. We have already shown the resilience and determination it takes to navigate and succeed in school. The sky is the limit. We all salute you!
Anika Saboo ’21 MBA is a recent graduate of the University of New Haven. She prepared this speech as part of an opportunity in which members of the Class of 2021 applied to be able to address their graduates. She was one of 16 students chosen to do a live audition via Zoom. Two students – one undergraduate and one graduate – were selected to speak at both the morning and afternoon ceremonies.