Office of Student Life

Buckeye Leadership Fellows Program

Letter to a Mentor - Rachita Puri

May 13, 2020 by Beth Johnson

Dear Karishma,

I’ve always wanted a big sister. Instead I found a kindred spirit.

“I think you should consider a different English class. It’s.. uh.. taught a bit differently here”, my high school counselor suggested delicately – and enunciated slowly. As I sat there, your voice filled with untainted conviction echoed in my head, “You’ll really enjoy Honors English Multigenre, I believe you’ll do well”. I lowered the pen suspended in my hand to check a box on the schedule laid out in front of me.

My counselor hadn’t lied, English in the US was indeed taught “differently”. The Honors English Multigenre course ended up being one of the most challenging yet rewarding experiences of my life. From not knowing the meaning of the word “thesis”, earning a “C” on my first paper (for the first time in my life, in a subject I prided myself over back home in India), to pouring my heart into the class and eventually earning an A. Even looking back almost 5 years from today, this continues to be one of my proudest and most defining moments. Thank you for believing in me even when we’d only just met (and I’d exchanged a handful of accent heavy words).

It’s hard to narrow down on a single lesson you’ve taught me. You’ve shaped me into who I am today in unfathomable ways. Without having my parents by my side in this strange new land, you guided and inspired me to regain my confidence, shared your love for Jane Austen, classics, and romance, motivated me to work hard with your own work ethic (reflected by your 4.0 GPAs all through high-school, college, and medical school), and most importantly, you encouraged me to make the world a better place by following my dreams.

Thank you for believing in me so much again when I decided to attend Ohio State and for all your solid, invaluable advice over the last 4 years. Our phone calls stretching for hours, your sweet birthday surprise packages, your spectacular planning for our spring break trips, and hugs after I walked down the oval on Sphinx linking day; these are moments that have made all the difference to my journey at OSU.

I envision you to be a fearless warrior like Mulan as you save hundreds of lives at the hospital amidst this pandemic.  You’ve helped others bear so much pain while sacrificing so much yourself including having to move out of your home and staying away from your family indefinitely. I am proud of you and in awe of your unwavering commitment, selflessness, love, and profound kindness. Thank you for making me genuinely care, pushing me to believe in myself at every step, and painting life for me in a soft, pastel blue.