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Senior reflections: Laddha '17 relies on curiosity, connections to thrive

May 22, 2017 at 1:06 pm
By Charlotte Duong '17

Coming to Carleton, Abha Laddha ’17 wanted to experience all the things that she didn’t have the chance to explore while growing up in India. She started her mission by taking classes in nine different departments during her freshman year.

“That is definitely one of the things I’m most proud of,” Laddha says.

In addition to vigorous academic activities, Laddha also spent a lot of time learning a variety of winter sports, something that she never imagined doing while living in Kolkata.

Not only a student who welcomes challenges, Laddha also appreciates strong interpersonal connections. She enjoys seeing different perspectives, which is why Laddha decided to become part of Carleton Student Association as its Vice President. The position, mainly held during her senior year, gave Laddha a chance to interact with disparate student groups.

“I could just spend a whole day talking to people and learning about their stories,” Laddha says.

With her dynamic personality and admirable academic accomplishments, Laddha fully embodies the notion that “great things come in small packages”—a phrase that her fellow classmates use to describe this petite yet influential woman.

Four years at Carleton has inevitably shaped Laddha. Likewise, her presence on campus helped shape Carleton.

In a series of interviews with senior students, we asked Laddha (computer science/political science/international relations) to reflect on life as a Carl and the road to graduation.

HOW I GOT TO CARLETON

I applied to Carleton on a whim. I didn’t know anyone who had been to Carleton. I had not heard of the school, but I was looking up liberal arts colleges and stumbled upon Carleton during my searches. The application was not very hard, and it didn’t require money. So I applied.

“The way I chose Carleton was a little interesting. I wanted a school that would be very different from where I grew up in Kolkata. I think that most (American) colleges now tend to have a large population of Indian students, and that results in people just (staying) within their Indian community. I thought at Carleton I would find a place where I would really be challenged to meet new people from different backgrounds.”

MY TURNING POINT

“I think every Carleton winter term brought something. My fall term of freshman year was beautiful and perfect. I became friends with my New Student Week group. I just had a great sense of community. Coming back from winter break, the (Minnesota) weather went down to negative 40 degrees and it shuffled things up. I did not know how to dress for the weather or how to stay active in winter. I remember being holed up in my room a lot. I had classes at 8 a.m. across campus and I was not able to pay attention because of being sleep-deprived or being too cold.

“But I had friends pulling me out of that miserable time. It was third or fourth week of the term, and they planned a special thing around my birthday. My friends dressed up in Indian costumes and did a little Bollywood dance just to make me feel more at home. Some others planned a birthday gathering, which reminded me that there are people who cared. It made me feel like I belonged. It also helped me realize how important (Carleton) people are in my life. I could do all my work and be engaged academically, but I really needed those personal relationships to keep me happy. It’s a big part of who I am.”

NOW THAT I’M ABOUT TO LEAVE

“It’s definitely a mixed feeling. Over my four years at Carleton, there’s a lot that I’ve learned, such as ways to change many world issues (gender equality, reducing poverty, protecting the environment) that I used to only think about as concepts. So I am excited to see how my academic skills transform into the real world and have a real impact.

“At the same time, the part that I’ll miss about Carleton is just the closeness and proximity of people around you. Hanging out is as easy as sending a text; you can meet up for lunch or dinner. There are so many campus events to go to for free almost every night. You can find a group of people to hang out or go to an a cappella concert with. There are no logistical issues like living in opposite parts of a city or a country. That’s what I am going to miss a lot. Because in the real world, it’s much harder to maintain those social connections. It takes a lot more effort. At Carleton, friendship comes to people rather easily if you are willing to put yourself out there.”