Class of 2018
Majors: Biology, Chemistry
Hometown: Naquora, South Lebanon
While the schedule of a double major in biology and chemistry is stacked with back-to-back science courses, Christ College is where “my brain gets to work in a different direction,” says Ashita Bhatnagar, an aspiring surgeon and Christ College scholar.
But don’t make the mistake of seeing Christ College courses as an escape from the real world, Ashita cautions. On the contrary, she thinks her work at Christ College is preparing her to analyze and understand the unpredictable ethical situations that real life inevitably presents.
“In the debates and discussions we have about the books we read, we go way beyond the confines of the text itself. We talk about how the issues raised in our reading apply to our lives; it makes us think about our own actions and see them differently,” Ashita says
One of her favorite examples is a class discussion about Aristotle that took place during her first semester at Christ College.
“We were talking about friendship,” she says. “We didn’t just stick to the book; we applied the discussion to real situations, and it caused me to reconsider something I had done in a new light,” Ashita recalls. “It made me a better friend.”
The diversity of the first-year curriculum, which includes philosophy from around the world and analytical study of religious traditions as well as literature, is eye-opening, Ashita says.
So are the frank, intense discussions that tend to result in lasting friendships among Christ College students.
“I feel really lucky to have professors who encourage students to speak. It’s a small class and people are self-conscious at first, but you gain confidence quickly,” she notes.
“Speaking my mind in Christ College classes has made me so much more self-assured,” she says, “and talking with people from so many different cultures has made me feel confident that I can talk to anybody.”
Ashita, born in India, lives in Lebanon and attended an Indian boarding school before coming to Valpo.
“Especially for someone coming from a completely different background, it’s great to hear people speak so freely about their perspectives on their own culture and the cultures we read about,” she says.
“I feel like I’m welcomed and I belong,” Ashita continues. “My culture and my religion are respected. Christ College is very dedicated to freedom of speech and belief.
“It seems strange,” Ashita concludes, “that reading and talking can have such a profound effect. I think it has changed me: it has made me more curious and more interested in what is happening around me. And I’m eager to get up every morning! I’ve never once thought, ‘Oh, I have do get up and go to class.’ … I love it!”