Seniors Share their Smith Experiences and Post-Smith Plans

Compiled by Hira Humayun ’17
Features Editor

Sometimes I am still in awe of my 18-year-old self and how I gathered the courage four years ago to hop onto that plane alone and find my way to Northampton, an unknown land more than 7,000 miles from my home in Pakistan. In those early moments of excitement, frenzy, nervousness and fear all I could hold onto was the hope that this incredible opportunity would change my life forever. And it did, in more ways than I could have ever imagined.
By making a world-class education affordable for me Smith has built my confidence and given me the skills I need to be successful in whatever I choose to do in life. My internship at an alternative energy project in Pakistan, the two summers I spent interning in investment banking at Morgan Stanley, New York and my JYA at the London School of Economics were all opportunities that Smith provided me and have truly shaped the strong, independent, ambitious and passionate Smithie that I am today.
Sylvia Plath described Smith as the place where “the world is splitting open at my feet like a ripe, juicy watermelon.” What Sylvia Plath felt in 1950, I feel about Smith in 2015. Such is the perennial quality of the Smith experience. At Smith, I have learned that arriving at one goal is the starting point to another. From my roots in the bustling metropolis in Karachi, to Northampton and on to London, my journey goes on. I am confident that even years later, when I return to Northampton, I will still feel like I am home again.
-Ayla Ahmed

I am a Government and East Asian Studies double major. I lived in Park House for all of my three years at Smith College and had the opportunity to study abroad at the LSE. I’ve been a Gold Key tour guide since my first year, and been on the board of Gold Key since sophomore year. I’ve also enjoyed being on the squash team. Starting this summer I will be working for BlackRock in their Tokyo office.
-Haruka Shimoto

As a Theater major and South Asia Concentrator at Smith, I can only look back at the amazing experiences I have had while crafting a student directing career of seven theater and two documentary film productions at this prestigious institution. It wasn’t easy, I made mistakes, but grew as a leader taking charge of her own decisions. Writing and directing Smith’s first South Asian play, “Family Duty,” at Smith was special because it was inspired from a short story that my mother wrote when she was in college. There are hardly any women in the field of directing, especially women of color who aim for that director’s chair. But at a school that has produced three Academy award winners, Smith is where we learn to dream of the red carpet! My senior year honors thesis focused on researching and re-writing Ibsen’s 19th century Norwegian classic  in an 21st century Indo-Islamic setting. This year we staged four productions of it over the fall and spring semester. Now that my Smith journey has come to an end, I hope to go to Film school for an MFA in directing and production. Currently I am a Fulbright alternate for teaching Theater and English in Malaysia, and have received a Smith Grant to do project on making a documentary on theater for peace with women and children in conflict ridden areas in Pakistan. I would also love to intern at a film company before I begin grad school.If it were not for Smith, my passion for the arts would have remained suppressed. But today I am able to envision myself as a director telling stories on the big screen. I am grateful to the Smith College Theater department, South Asia concentration, faculty, staff members and most importantly, the generous college alumnae, because of whom my sister Suroor Gandhi ‘18 and I have been able to afford an exceptional Smith education. 
-Afreen Gandhi

My Smith experience was filled with internationalism. From living with friends from all around the world to studying abroad, Smith has taught me that being Women of the World is not just a state of being or a slogan, it’s truly a way of life. How to think outside of boxes and beyond borders is what I learned here. I think that’s what makes the academics at Smith so challenging and satisfying at the same time. While riding on the equestrian team, sitting on the ORC board and doing the JYA Hamburg program, I have never once met a Smithie who slacks off or goes easy on herself. I think this is because we Smithies are motivated to make meaningful impacts on the world we learn to see through our education here. After graduation, I will take my Smith education to Berlin, Germany where I will be doing a Masters in Business while working part-time for Ernst & Young. Although I will miss living among my Smith community, I have gained more courage and tools from my time here at Smith than I could have ever imagined. 
-Nandi Scherbl

Overall, I’ve loved going to a women’s college, especially as a STEM person! For my future plans: short term, I’m very fortunate to be able to take a break from the hectic academic world, so I plan on petting my dog, eating food cooked for less than 20 people and reading books for pleasure. Medium term, I’d like to get a part time job (due to health issues) related to math, so maybe tutoring or consulting work. Long term I’m hoping to get a job doing math-y things for the government, and will almost certainly go to graduate school.  Other than that, I’m really hoping to travel one day.  
-Julie Richardson

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