As the senior year class representative, Mehak Sangani has had a busy year. From assisting with residential housing situations to giving the University insights on the impact of campus operational changes during the pandemic, Sangani helped to represent the voice of seniors and share their wishes to preserve a sense of normality during their final year at NYU Abu Dhabi.
The Senior Year Experience Committee is typically focused on activities and programming for the graduating class. This year, the role of the committee has given way to something the seniors felt was even more important: advocating for what their senior year looks like during a global pandemic. When Sangani realized Commencement for her graduating class might be different to the one she had always envisioned, she decided to take a more active role by signing up to be the senior year class representative.
In the tradition of the graduating class, seniors could normally be found 100 days prior to Commencement de-stressing on a sandy beach in Abu Dhabi. But health and safety measures meant things had to be done differently this year. For students who had been looking forward to some of these events, many were left feeling like they were missing out. To help, Sangani organized a virtual session for all NYUAD Class of 2021 seniors to safely attend together and vent at the same time.
“The Senior Scream” saw many seniors screaming at the top of their lungs by their windows on campus, or into their computer screen with their peers on Zoom. “In some way it sounds weird, but it was really powerful. It’s the closest thing we can do together,” Sangani said. Through her role as the senior class representative this year, Sangani had definitely grown closer to her classmates. Something to consider given that when she first started at NYUAD, she was worried about not being able to make any friends.
Back home, Sangani attended the same school for over 14 years until she graduated from high school. “I have the same friends whom I saw daily since I was five years old,” Sangani explained. So it took Sangani by surprise how easy it was to strike up conversations when she arrived at the University four years ago, especially with classmates from a myriad of cultures and backgrounds.
Sangani fondly recalls the spontaneous catch-up sessions after class where students would stream out of lecture halls and classrooms from all corners of the NYUAD campus and naturally converge by the palm trees. Those brief exchanges, which look a little different at the moment, helped to keep each other updated on their daily lives, while also stocking up on snacks at the convenience store.
Every so often, Sangani is caught off-guard by the reality of being an NYUAD student, and the gratitude that comes with it. “I would be at a campus event and in mid conversation with someone, it would suddenly dawn upon me that gosh, I’m here. I’ve made it to NYUAD,” Sangani said. It’s these small moments that Sangani will cherish in the years to come as some of her favorite memories.