As they prepare for their May 15 Commencement Ceremony, Franklin & Marshall seniors look back at their four years on campus—and what's next.
Name: Shubh Punj
Major: Physics and Economics
What town do you call home? New Delhi, India
Activities at F&M:
President of the Diplomatic Congress and the student body; member of Phi Kappa Psi fraternity
Your senior year has been unlike any other in F&M’s history. What have you learned about yourself this year?
I often felt this need to pretend that I had things figured out or that there was a plan. As the pandemic continued to thwart the expected, I learned to be more honest about my failures and my ignorance. Along with this honesty, I had to become more patient with myself.
What has been your most memorable moment or time here at F&M?
The summer after my first year was one of my most memorable times at F&M. I did research with Professor (Etienne) Gagnon and Professor (Amy) Lytle in the Department of Physics and as someone who was fairly new to the major, I was pleasantly surprised by the kind of challenge I was entrusted with. Walking into Professor Gagnon’s office and requesting an opportunity to work in the lab was one of the best decisions I had made at F&M; I learned that if I put my time and effort into something, there’s no real barrier to what I can accomplish. That summer, I also spent a lot of time exploring downtown Lancaster and hiking trails in the county. The routines of the academic year often isolate you from certain people who follow different pathways—this is not the case over the summers. I met several people across class years and made friends who remain close four years later.
What did you enjoy most about your time at the College?
I enjoyed forming friendships with people that did not fit the mold I had initially envisioned. The same people played an integral role in my growth over the past four years, and I’m grateful that I’m taking them with me wherever I go next. I will always cherish the late-night conversations and the many trips I made with these people. It would also be a gross oversight to not acknowledge how much I enjoyed working with the passionate and driven students in my time with the Diplomatic Congress; these individuals started off as colleagues or mentors but have become some of my closest friends.
Why did you choose to attend F&M?
I applied to F&M because of its size and the liberal arts education, but this was before a time where I truly understood the value of those things. At the end of my application process, F&M was the only viable option for me. I felt trapped at the time but when I stepped foot on campus, I decided to make the most of it. I would say I’ve done just that.
What advice do you have for incoming first-years?
Feel entitled to opportunities and never be afraid to ask. F&M has a lot of opportunities to offer and if you choose to, you can truly define the experience you have at this institution. I’ve enjoyed the amount of growth I’ve realized through unprecedented conversations and interactions with people that I often met accidentally. Experiment and put yourself out there to experience those accidents.
What are your plans for after graduation?
After graduation, I will join The Wall Street Journal as a part of its Customer Intelligence team.
"I’ve enjoyed the growth I’ve realized through unprecedented conversations and interactions with people I often met accidentally. Experiment and put yourself out there to experience those accidents."