Becoming Myself at Beloit College

Deepakshi Bhardwaj’22 came to Beloit College with political science in mind. She graduated with both majors in international relations and business economics and a strong sense of self.

Deepakshi Bharwaj’s college search initially focused on large research universities. Although she was accepted, ultimately she rejected the admissions offers. The universities were either too expensive or too large.

She turned to Beloit College, having read about Ding Darling, Beloit College class of 1899, for a 10th grade class assignment focused on Pulitzer Prize winners. Darling, a newspaper cartoonist, earned not just one but two Pulitzers, and had honed his cartooning skills at Beloit, where many of his humorous drawings appeared in the college year book, the CODEX.

Darling’s story stuck with Deepakshi, and when she realized her college search was not yet over, she asked herself: Might Beloit, a small, liberal arts college, be a better fit?

After all, Darling had majored in biology, engaged in multiple campus activities, from the glee club to athletics to the Round Table, and earned money by singing at local funerals, in addition to drawing for the CODEX. Beloit had also prepared him for a life of public service in conservation.

Ding’s story and Beloit appealed; at Beloit, you need not be pigeon holed into one major or one activity or one future career.

Further, Darling’s CODEX drawings suggested that Beloit students knew their instructors as individuals, not just distant authority figures. Thus, a particularly mischievous drawing by Darling depicts the college faculty, all male and easily identifiable, wearing tutus as they dance in a chorus line. In a related drawing, the college president sports a Scottish kilt.

The drawings, suggesting close connections between faculty and students, made Beloit feel welcoming.

And indeed, Beloit College was. The first in her family to travel abroad for her Deepakshi Bhardwaj?22 on the Beloit College campus in the spring Deepakshi Bhardwaj’22 on the Beloit College campus in the spring education, Deepakshi was understandably nervous about attending college so far away from home.

She remains thankful for the help extended to her as she prepared to come to campus. “Both the admissions counselors and Shannon Jolly, the international student advisor, were available to answer my questions via email,” she says. “That helped bridge the time difference between Beloit and my home in India.”

Her very first class, early on a Monday morning, convinced her to study international relations (IR). “I came to Beloit with political science in mind, but Pablo Toral’s class changed my mind. IR addresses big problems, and that is what I want to do.” Her last class at Beloit would also be with professor Toral, but on a Tuesday evening.

Speaking with Prof. Toral near the end of her senior year, Deepakshi realized how far she’d come since that initial class. Uneasy about her English when she arrived on campus, in part because her family does not speak it, in four years she had become both an effective, confident speaker and a proficient writer.

Deepakshi Bhardwaj?22 presenting her senior thesis at the Midwest Economics Association Meeting i... Deepakshi Bhardwaj’22 presenting her senior thesis at the Midwest Economics Association Meeting in MinneapolisBusiness economics appealed in addition to IR. “Economist Laura Grube taught my first-year seminar. We read Adam Smith’s work and learned about the city of Beloit’s economic history. The next year I took a second economics course with Diep Phan. That was it. I added a business economics major to IR.”

And as was true for Ding Darling, extra-curricular activities would prove influential. In fact, Deepakshi credits her improved communication skills not just to her academic work, but to a leadership role in Beloit’s student government, or BSG.

Together with Nayomi Neelangal, Deepakshi became BSG co-president just as students returned to campus from their pandemic stays at home. The two were determined to both address students’ immediate needs and help them regain a sense of belonging and connection.

Thus, when a temporary plumbing problem in Neese Theater shut down its Aldrich Field Backyard Event Canvas Aldrich Field Backyard Event Canvasdrinking fountains, Deepakshi and Nayomi worked with college staff to make bottled water available. And to foster connectivity, they organized a celebratory “backyard” party at Aldrich Field with a food truck, Beloit College swag, and spray guns with which to paint a giant canvas. Much appreciated by its participants, who deemed it a huge success, the event also honored the collective effort and safe, responsible behavior that had made the return to campus possible.

A May 2022 graduate, Deepakshi is spending her first post-graduation year working for Beloit College’s Office of Communications and Integrated Marketing. She welcomes the opportunity to continue to develop her career readiness skills, while also reflecting on her past and future. She’s considering careers focused on either the climate emergency or cybersecurity.

No matter which, she’ll benefit from the years she spent at Beloit College. “Beloit not only helps you realize who you are, but gives you the confidence to become more you. I am so grateful for the time and resources the college made available to me.”

Elizabeth Brewer
August 31, 2022

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