Wednesday December 7, 2016

How One Flyer Made the Most of UD

When Punit Gupta ‘14 decided he wanted to attend graduate school in the United States, he had no idea he would end up at the University of Dayton. Punit had become accustomed with being away from home, as his undergraduate university in Chennai, India was 1,600 miles away from his hometown of New Delhi. But traveling halfway around the world to attend school was soon going to be a new adventure for him to experience. One goal we have for students during their time in college is to connect and learn from people with diverse experiences. Punit utilized every opportunity to achieve this goal and turned this into his full time mission while at UD.  

Punit was ready for something new in his graduate experience. From a large city, he was looking for a Catholic university in a smaller city. University of Dayton was the first school in the U.S. where Punit was accepted, and it fit perfectly in his search. After learning more about Dayton’s history, he discovered the Wright Brothers connection to the city, and decided that was a useful “fun fact” to use when sharing with his friends and family about the place he would be attending graduate school. He’d soon learn what it really meant to be a part of the Flyer community.

Rattling off August 8, 2012 with no hesitation (the date he arrived in the U.S.), Punit recalled vividly his first days at UD. “Americans really wanted to hear my opinion. If they ask you what color shirt you’re wearing or what kind of drink you want, they really want to know the honest answer. They want your opinion. That was a different experience for me.” He also shared how he remembers his first off-campus meal at Chipotle, and how amazed he was at the portion sizes. Being an international student, he arrived to the U.S. a few weeks before classes started, and immediately started exploring the new place he would call home. He would spend the next two and half years arriving to campus every morning around 8:00am and staying until 9:00-10:00pm, utilizing every moment to engage more with the campus community. 

So what encouraged Punit to become so involved in campus life here at UD? He attributes his involvement to making meaningful connections with people who were different from him. During his first weeks he attended Up the Orgs, and was introduced to International Club where he immediately found a home amongst the group. This became one of Punit’s most significant experiences on campus, and in his words “became as important as academics” to him. Through his involvement with International Club, he went on to become the secretary and later the president, creating additional intercultural opportunities for students to learn from each other’s different experiences.  He also became a member of the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. Through this opportunity, Punit was able to gain a deeper understanding of giving back to the Dayton community, and continued to make a broad array of connections.

Punit also took advantage of the opportunity to get a job on campus. As his first formal job, Punit applied to work in the Kennedy Union (KU) Dining Hall, and found another place he would develop friendships and connections. He quickly became a familiar face in KU, and enjoyed the chance to meet such a wide range of students, faculty and staff. Reflecting on his time at UD, he shared “I never thought I’d miss the words ‘nice to meet you’ as much as I have since leaving UD.”

Part of what made Punit’s experience so rich was his willingness to share his experience with others. Punit served on several student panels, where he enthusiastically shared his perspective and reflections as an international student. His eagerness to be so open soon paid off and he became a rather popular student around campus.

Punit graduated in December 2014 with his masters in Chemical Engineering. After a short stint at a company in New Jersey, he realized he missed the interpersonal aspects of life like he had at UD. Punit is now working as a Record Management Specialist for Pfizer in Chicago, IL and is enjoying the chance to work closer with his colleagues. In his free time, he also volunteers with an organization that supports victims of domestic abuse, and enjoys taking the train to work each day.

When asked what advice he would give to current students at UD, he shared “get out of your comfort zone, you can achieve anything you want. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and express what you are looking for, be honest and expressive. People care at UD.” Punit continues to thrive and occasionally returns to UD to visit with faculty, staff and students who he's still connected with here. We’re thankful he shared so many meaningful experiences during his time as a Flyer. 

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