Aarit Ahuja ’16 is as enthusiastic about singing Wesleyan’s praises as they come. The neuroscience and psychology double major, who is heading to graduate school next year, learned about Wesleyan solely from his laptop in Mussoorie, India, but soon became involved in university relations hiring hundreds of people to work events such as homecoming. He also secured a coveted spot as a senior interviewer this year. Ahuja sat down with The Argus to talk about the admissions process, dance, and his post-grad plans.
The Argus: Why do you think you were nominated to be a WesCeleb?
Aarit Ahuja: I don’t think I know. It was on my bucket list, so that’s convenient because I’m a senior. Maybe somebody heard me tell them it was on my bucket list and thought that they would help me fulfill that dream. I really don’t know.
A: What kind of things are you involved in on campus?
AA: I used to work at University Relations hiring students to work at on-campus events like Homecoming and R&C, so I just crossed paths with a lot of people. We hired around 200 people a year. So I know names and faces of people through that thing. I was House Manager for International House last year. Now I’m actually in Admissions as a senior interviewer.
A: And I saw from your Facebook that you dance?
AA: Never before coming to Wesleyan, and then somehow every year that I’ve been here I’ve been a part of some dance performance or another. And I don’t know how that happened. I guess Wesleyan has a way of doing that to you where you just do the things you never thought you would do and nobody does only one thing here. So yeah, I guess I honestly don’t anticipate dancing after I leave here, but I guess while I am here I’ll dance from time to time.
A: What kind of productions have you been in in your time here so far?
AA: Mostly Bollywood stuff for the South Asian Student Association and those shows. Because I’m part of that student group and because those shows tend to involve dancing. I’ve done it every year now.
A: How is it being an interviewer?
AA: I like the group of people that I work with and I like knowing that some part of what I do will at least in some form affect the next incoming class. But I have to say something that I didn’t anticipate about being senior interviewer is the monotony. At some point, the 10th kid and the 20th kid and the 30th kid all start to feel the same.
A: Does it ever get boring at some point?
AA: Exactly, yeah, and unless somebody is a real standout person with an obvious passion and I can pick his or her brain and get them to talk to me about that, a lot of times, if that energy never builds, the interview tends to be very formulaic and boring for me because by the 90th time I’ve asked mostly the same questions and heard mostly the same answers.
A: And then how do you determine if they’re a good fit from that…
AA: Exactly. And I wonder sometimes if I’m being too harsh on people and if I was just as stupid or not this critically thinking about the interview process when I was 17. Every now and then, though, you get a kid who blows your mind, kids who are informative and with direction and guidance. And those “stars” make it all worth it.
A: Is there anything not many people know about you?
AA: I feel like people don’t always know this about me, but I am secretly a bit of a comic book geek. I do have action figures on my shelf in my room here. That’s something that I really like to do.
A: What kind of comics are you into?
AA: I consider myself more of a DC man, so the entire Justice League. I have to give due credit to the Marvel team for their recent cinematic efforts. They have done a phenomenal job tying in their various onscreen pieces into the same universe. I wasn’t big on the whole Marvel universe because I wasn’t exposed to it, but now in recent years I feel like I am torn between the two universes. Comic book fans feel like they have to pick an allegiance and defend it to the death but I’m having an internal conflict. So that’s my little comic book thing.
A: What made you decide to come to Wesleyan?
AA: It was actually a super not glamorous story. My entire college search process happened from behind a computer screen. All I knew about all the schools I was admitted to was whatever was written on their websites. That was all the information I had. I never visited or anything. So I more or less just created a list of priorities for myself, and Wesleyan was the one that ticked off all my priority boxes and that’s just how I ended up here. If I could go back to my 17-year-old self I would throw out that system and just tell myself to go to Wesleyan because of the student body. The sense of community and support that I think is at Wesleyan is so much stronger than at schools that my friends from back in India have, and I feel bad about it because I wasn’t even thinking about it at that time, but I’ve really found an awesome community of students.
A: I’m assuming they go to much bigger schools now. What was school like in India?
AA: I went to an international boarding school. I left my home when I was in 7th grade, and when I was a sophomore, my parents moved to Bangkok and I decided to stay in India. But it didn’t really matter because I knew I would end up somewhere else no matter what. If I ever go home, I split my time between India and Bangkok.
A: What is your major?
AA: So I’m a neuroscience and psychology double major. Mostly a neuroscience major; the psychology major was a convenient add-on because the two big things that deter people from adding the psych major is the fact that you have to go abroad and you have to be able to speak a second language. But I’m an international student so I’m already studying abroad, and I spoke that second language before coming here. So I basically petitioned my way out of those two things, and it was three or four more classes on top of the neuroscience major.
A: So do you have any idea plans for after graduation?
AA: I just got accepted to graduate school to the neurobiology program at Duke, and I’m interviewing at Brown at the end of this month so I maybe have that option, too. I pretty much knew I wanted to go to graduate school because I knew that I wanted to get into academia. Or at least I think I want to get into academia. So graduate school seemed like the natural next step. I didn’t want to go into the industry with my science background; having a job didn’t seem like the most exciting thing.