The “Portrait of an Alum” blog series gives a glimpse of life after graduation, with a particular emphasis on our students’ readiness for the transition to college and how their affections and outlook have been shaped through their experiences, teachers and Christian community at Veritas. For this profile, Director of Communications Sara Kennedy interviewed 2016 graduate Rahul Ray, a Sophomore at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. This is a summary of their conversation.
Rahul Ray, Class of 2016, is convinced that “Time management is key to success at college.” And he should know! A Sophomore at Virginia Tech (VT), Rahul plays intramural basketball and soccer, competes with the VT programming team, participates in a weekly Reformed University Fellowship (RUF) Bible study, attends Sunday worship at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, is a Residence Hall Advisor (RA) in the Engineering Living Learning Community Galileo, and is majoring in Computer Science with a double minor in Math and Cyber Security.
“Its hard to believe how much you can tackle in college, if you manage your time well. Start your work as early as possible and be choosy about where to invest yourself.” Rahul admits this was one of several lessons he needed to learn early; with so many new people, new experiences, and new options available, finding the right balance defined the work of his first few months at Tech.
Coming from a small high school, where everyone knows and cares about you, quirks and all, to a campus of 30,000+, was also a big transition for Rahul. Now the proverbial small fish in a big pond, Rahul quickly realized that smarter, faster, more experienced science-minded peers surround him. And he loves it. He is learning so much from his peers as they push and challenge him, stretching his creativity, building his problem-solving skills.
And like every student we’ve interviewed for the Portrait of a Graduate series, Rahul invests time and energy in connecting with his professors. The sense that teachers are for you, are eager for your success, was cultivated over many years at Veritas; it’s a conviction that drives Rahul to seek out his professors during Office Hours, even in classes of 400 students or more. Not only does this relationship-building help him deepen his understanding of course content, it also lays the foundation for networking and connections in the future.
Similarly, Rahul is thoughtful about relationship-building with his peers. He’s found it easy and a joy to make friends from a wide diversity of backgrounds and traditions; but particularly treasures the core group of Christian friends he met through campus ministries in his first months at Tech. “Peer pressure is real. Make friends with people who will help you to be your best self.”
In the coming months, Rahul will add one more item to his full list of activities – preparing for an internship in the summer with Lockheed Martin. Encouraged by his friends to apply, Rahul was thrilled and humbled to be chosen; he is waiting to hear if he will be assigned to work in DC, California, Texas, Oregon, or Florida. Following in the footsteps of his father, Rahul is anxious to put his growing computer programming skills to work.
And his other coursework? Rahul feels that Veritas did a great job preparing him, in the sciences that are foundational to his major and minors, but also for public speaking and writing. The agitated nerves that typically trouble students when asked to make a public presentation were put to rest through years of practice. He is deeply grateful to the teachers whose investments in his life bears good fruit even now – and will for many years to come.
Even under the best circumstances, transitions are hard work. Leaving a small Christian high school for a huge state university, missing daily routines with beloved family members, assuming responsibility for self (and as of this year, forty other students in the Galileo Living Learning Community) and learning to balance priorities within the constraints of time requires a steep trajectory of growth. Humbly accepting the natural consequences – good and hard – of one’s choices, and witnessing those around you do the same – leads to spiritual maturity and emotional resilience. What a joy to hear that Rahul is imperfectly, but thoughtfully and faithfully, taking up this challenge.
And I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Philippians 1:6