Senior Avni Bodwadkar chose NYU because of the Business and Political Economy (BPE) degree at the Stern School of Business. This program, she knew, bridged her passions for business and international politics. “When I read through the curriculum, I learned about the study abroad component. That’s when I realized it was the perfect program for me. I could explore all of the subjects I was interested in and gain a broader understanding of how they interconnect,” she says. “I also liked that I had the option to take so many electives alongside the foundational courses. It was an opportunity to dive deeper into whichever subjects interested me the most. After looking at other universities, I knew there was no other program so suited to my interests.”
Avni isn’t shy to admit that her first semester at Stern was a little challenging. “I came from a tiny high school in England, where I was part of a graduating class of 50 students. Everyone knew everyone, and it was extremely insular. Coming to one of the largest private universities in a different country, in a city I had barely spent time in, was a huge change for me,” she says. Still, she persevered through the struggles, settling down and making some of her best friends on campus that year.
She credits NYU’s mentorship opportunities with helping her build her confidence. “One amazing thing about NYU is there are so many avenues to mentorship right from day one. Besides my BPE mentor, I found mentors in my orientation leaders, the extracurriculars I participated in, and friends of friends,” Avni says. “During my first year, I often turned to them. They reassured me that imposter syndrome was normal and that I wasn’t behind. They believed in my ability even when I doubted myself. Knowing I had their support instilled a sense of confidence in me that I’m not sure I would have found otherwise.”
Spreading Her Wings Abroad
Because the BPE program focuses so much on international business, Avni studied abroad twice, in London and Shanghai. In both cities, Avni gained a more nuanced aspect of the country’s culture and business practice. And in Shanghai, she even began learning Chinese. “Studying abroad was an amazing way to gain perspective on my own country. It challenged previous notions I held about what works and doesn’t work in terms of running a country,” she says. “I saw how the interaction between business and government plays out across the world. At Stern many of us will go on to work for companies that have a presence in multiple countries, so it is crucial to be aware of this dynamic.”
A Leader in Her Own Right
Now, back on the Washington Square campus, Avni is helping other students overcome some of the same challenges she did. After spending a year abroad, she thought about what she wanted her transition back to New York City to look like. She knew that getting more involved in the NYU community was a priority for her. As a result, she decided to become an orientation leader to help Stern first years feel more at home, just as her orientation leaders had done for her. But she didn’t realize how much of a community the program would offer her in return.
“The other orientation leaders were the most welcoming and kind community I could have asked for,” Avni says. “I met so many other people who were involved in completely different groups on campus, so I learned a lot about what NYU has to offer. It made my transition back to New York City much easier.”
Now Avni is in the perfect position to help others overcome challenges. “As a Stern upperclass student and an orientation leader, many first- and second-years come to me with the same feelings I had as a first year,” she says. “And the ability to reassure them with conviction that everything does turn out OK has shown me just how far I have come.”