“My friends say being from Texas isn’t a personality trait, but they’re wrong.” So says Club Tennis captain and Rho Ep Member Initiator Caroline Bhupathi ’20. In between organizing tennis tryouts and making new hires in the Scientific Computing and Informatics Center (SCIC), Caroline can be found at Swings or Usdan, sharing a meal with whichever new person she met that week. Even still, she found the time to sit down for an interview this past week, sporting a sweater with “TEXAS” in big block letters splayed across the front. The Argus caught up with Caroline about what’s changed since her first year, her future plans, and a whole lot in between.
The Argus: First of all, just because they’re fantastic, can you talk a little about the “come to Wesleyan” videos we found of you online?
Caroline Bhupathi: I still can’t believe you found those. Those were the most embarrassing things I’ve ever done. ’Cause it was like…they emailed me, and were like, “do you want $150?” And I was like, “yeah!” And they were like, “just record yourself going around campus.” But I didn’t do that. I forgot. And it was the day before, so I was going to bed, recording myself, like “hey guys, come to Wesleyan.” It wasn’t the best argument, honestly.
A: Did people see them?
CB: You are the first person to ever mention them. So I was like, good God, they’ve surfaced. I mean, they’ve been there for months, maybe even a year. And nobody’s seen them. I wouldn’t recommend them to anyone. There’s one video that’s good—it’s my two friends, talking about Wesleyan, and it’s so organic. It was beautiful, almost. Everything else is trash. Honestly, it wasn’t even worth the $150. I fully regret it.
A: Amazing. But maybe we should rewind a little bit. How’s senior year?
CB: Senior year’s great, I love it a lot. I mean, it’s only been like a week or so. I haven’t done any work. I’ve been…. Honestly, this year, there’s just a lot more responsibility, and delegating, and doing things. I think it’s everything it’s shaped out to be. The house is awesome, you get all the classes you want. I feel like I used to be scared of the seniors, so I’ve been trying to be nice to the freshmen. I was in the package line, and it was basically orientation 2.0. Everyone was like, “I’m a freshman, I’m from here, blah blah blah.” And one of them turned to me, and they were like, “Are you a freshman?” And I was like, “No.” “Are you a sophomore?” [sighs] “No.” It was cute though, meeting the freshmen has actually been nice. How’s senior year? Am I sad? I don’t know. I don’t want to think about it ending. I’m a mixture of happy, excited, but not sad yet. I feel like if you asked me in May, I’d be pretty sad, but right now I’m having a good time.
A: You mentioned a lot of responsibilities this year. You have about a million things going on…
CB: I mean, it’s not that much. I’m the captain of club tennis. That’s more work than I thought—figuring out practice times, matches, funding. We just had tryouts, that was exciting. I work at the SCIC, I had to make everyone’s schedules. And then I tutor. And Rho Ep. I’m the new member initiator, it’s like new people come to me and I’m supposed to know all, even though I know nothing. I’m doing a tutorial with a professor, taking classes, but besides that I’m just kind of around. You have to balance life, you know? Go to class, go to Fountain. The two things that you need.
A: Tell me more about your role for Rho Ep. Are you excited to bring new people on board?
CB: Yeah, I’m excited. Rush! Rush Rho Ep. Well, not you. But other people. Next semester, once they’re already in we’ll have meetings just for the new people. I’m not really thinking too much about it, right now I’m just meeting all the girls that might want to join, spreading awareness, telling people that it’s a very chill thing. It’s fun, you know, but there’s more to it—community service, and we have talks with the Resource Center, we do social events as well. It’s also just meeting people. I joined it sophomore year, because I went through, like, a rebrand of my life—you get there, sophomore year is hard—I needed more friends, and I was like, this group of all women should be a good place to start.
A: Sophomore year is hard, that’s so true. But what did you mean by rebranding? What’s the difference between first-year Caroline and now?
CB: Honestly, the transition from Texas to Wesleyan was a really big culture shock for me. My first year, I was always nervous and always trying to fit the mold I thought a Wesleyan student was—overly politically correct, super activist, all those stereotypes of Wesleyan. I don’t know if I completely fit that mold, and so I didn’t feel like I belonged here. I thought about transferring. And then sophomore year came around, and it was the second semester, and I was thinking about how to make new friends at such a small school. And so a lot of what I did, besides joining Rho Ep, was just going to the library a lot, sitting in SciLi like every day, made friends from people just studying all the time. That was the rebrand. And so not much is different for me—I guess I dress more like I did back home now, and I guess I’m not so nervous. It was good. It’s nice to know there are different groups of people at this school, and you can kind of pick one. I think I just picked the wrong one at first.
A: So given that kind of idea you came into Wesleyan with, of who Wesleyan people were, how has that changed? What’s surprised you about actually living here?
CB: Honestly, when you do the tours and such, I thought it was super artsy and activism-centered and that was great, and I wanted to do a lot of that, but I didn’t want that to be my whole life. And so that was the vibe I got, and now, I’m really surprised that there are the more Greek life-y, athletic-type people that I grew up with, that I thought didn’t exist here. Not saying I exclusively hang out with those people, but. There are both groups—I mean, the first time I was taking an art class, I was in the printing-press room, and this guy slid me a concert flyer. I was like, okay, that’s the Wesleyan I thought of. It’s still alive and well. I’m just not really a part of it. I stop by the concert, but that’s not my life. It’s like…as part of a club sport, you’re a non-athlete, but you still get to take part in both.
A: Well you are an athlete, though, right? I mean, club tennis is not a joke.
CB: Yeah, I mean, last year we went to nationals, which was really exciting and fun. We’ve only been a team for five years, so when I was a freshman you could just show up, but now we have tryouts. Last year, we had 60 people try out. Even still, though, we only practice one or two times every week, matches every couple weeks, we just happened to do well last year. I love club tennis, it’s a big part of my life.
A: Are you happy with that change that happened? From a traditional club team with not that much commitment to a team going to national competitions?
CB: When it happened, I couldn’t believe it. It felt so good. It was such an emotional, fun moment, and it was great taking something that wasn’t taken as seriously to seeing results and a payoff. It makes me feel proud, and it’s nice that nobody on the team has to have any intense training or anything, beforehand or during. I guess what is kind of hard is that my friends who graduated recently weren’t necessarily the best on the team, but they had really great team spirit, and so this year we’re trying to strike the balance between skill and…not personality, but team spirit and dedication, because that’s just as important. It’s like when I hire people for work—someone who is capable of tutoring, yeah, but also someone who is actively present and wants to be there.
A: Let’s talk about that, then. You’ve been a tutor yourself, right?
CB: Yeah, mostly for computer science classes. I love the SCIC, I’ve worked there since my sophomore year. It’s funny how I got the job. I was actually at a pregame—so go out, kids—and this guy walked up to me and was like, “Hey, you’re in computer science, would you like a job?” And I was like, “Okay, sure.” So, that’s when I got it. A day after that pregame, I got the job. Honestly, that justifies me going out now. You never know what can happen. But yeah, I’ve been there since sophomore year, I’m there a lot. I’m either home or there, and it’s like, a closet. But it’s nice, you know, everybody has there little nooks at this school. I’m interviewing and hiring people for it now, and it’s cute. One person called me “Professor Bhupathi,” instead of Caroline, and I was like, “Whoah! Absolutely not.” It’s really nice—they go from being really nervous to getting really comfortable with themselves, and I probably did go through that process too, and it’s just nice to see it in other people. I make friends tutoring there, too. There’s this one girl who’s abroad, and I was able to check in with her and talk about it just because of how much I tutored her last year. It’s a social thing as well. I think everything I do is in some way social.
A: That’s a good segue into the big question—why do you think you were nominated?
CB: [laughing] I have no idea! My friends and I were asking why! If anyone did nominate me, shoutout, let’s get a meal. I’m always one of those people who says, “Let’s get a meal!” It’s this saying, but people don’t follow through. I follow through. People will say it and brush it off, but I want to get a meal with everyone. I don’t know, how does this even work, anyway?
A: People nominated you online! And they mentioned tennis, and Rho Ep, and that you know basically everyone. Maybe that’s why—maybe it’s because you follow through on your meal plans with people.
CB: That should be the title, like, “Caroline Bhupathi wants to get a meal with you.” I actually love getting meals, because you’re so stressed with work, but you know in that hour that it’s just you, a person, and food. What more could you ask for? I guess maybe I got nominated because whenever I’m out somewhere, I always will stop to say hello if I’ve met you before. I try, anyway. I think that’s what’s most important after all this, when I leave Wesleyan. Beyond just academics, I think the most important thing is the connections I’ve made, the people I’ve met. You can learn way more from the people you meet than you can in class. I think it’s just a two-way street: I say hi to them, and they give me knowledge of them and their life. Other than that, I’m not sure. Maybe I just have a couple of fans.
A: Any fun memories you want to share?
CB: Well, I don’t know if it’s fun, exactly, but there is “In the Company of Others,” which I did for two years. That was so Wesleyan-specific. I was a sophomore, I showed up for orientation just so I could move in early, and this woman was like, “Okay, now write a 10-minute monologue about a part of your identity you struggle with, and you’re going to share it with the entire freshman class.” And I was like, “This lady’s crazy, she’s not for real,” so then I wrote a very of-the-surface-level thing, and she told me she wanted me to go deeper. And so I did this 10-minute monologue in front of the entire freshman class about how I’m half-white and half-Indian, and how I’ve struggled with that. Kind of how I got to where I am today. It was something beyond anything I could’ve ever done in class, or in a club. This school offers opportunities to not only grow as a student, as a friend, but just as a person. It was such an integral part of how I view myself. And it was so nice to do this, and then have freshmen come up to me later, at a party, or in the brunch line, and tell me they could relate to that. It wasn’t fun, always, because you had to deal with things you didn’t want to deal with. But it was impactful and cool. It was definitely cool. So I recommend people do that.
A: I’m glad you brought up the kind of impact you had had on people you met. I wanted to ask, since you’re graduating soon, and there are going to be a lot of people who you met that will still be here next year—what do you hope they remember about you?
CB: I guess what I hope they remember is that I always wanted to be their friend. I guess that sounds cheesy, but just making an effort every year and all the time to meet people, and wanting to get to know them. Because sometimes at smaller schools you get cliques, and some people when they want to meet others, they can’t. So I guess I just want to show underclassmen that it doesn’t stop at any point. You can be a senior, second semester, and still be meeting brand new people that will be your friends after school. That’s why I think the whole “get a meal” thing, I think it’s funny, but it could lead to any relationship or any friendship to the people around you, and I think that’s really cool. It’d be cool if they remembered me by that. I know that’s like, weirdly deep—they might remember me by like, tennis or something—but wanting to be their friend is pretty cool, too.
Spencer Arnold can be reached at email@example.com.