Meet Our Students: Tanay Warerkar '12

by Katharine Reece MFA '12

Sometimes indecision is a good thing. In India, where Tanay Warerkar ’12 grew up, students are expected to select a career path after high school and stick with it. Warerkar was unsure what he wanted to study, so he decided to research liberal arts options abroad, and eventually applied to Sarah Lawrence even though he had never been to America. He’s thrived at SLC, serving as a resident adviser, news editor at The Phoenix, and senior class co-president.

Tanay Warerkar

SLC: Did you have any expectations about what SLC would be like?

TW: I did, and I was completely wrong. With Facebook and Skype you feel so well connected with the rest of the world. I didn’t expect a culture shock at all. But I was in a theatre class for a week my first semester, and I was shocked when the professor cursed in class. In my culture, there’s a pronounced difference between the professor and student. Later on, even though I didn’t stay in that class, the experience turned out to be a really good thing. Professors here engage students on their level. They make you so comfortable that you can talk to them about anything.

SLC: What changed for you during your time here?

TW: The big thing was coming out to my parents in the fall of my first semester. It was a huge relief. Suddenly, all my social interactions became a lot more comfortable. I went home that summer and got a job at a newspaper. My first assignment was covering an accident that happened on the subway in Delhi. Bodies were still being taken away from the site. In India, if you start interviewing one person, a huge swarm of people gathers to hear what you’re talking about. Situations like that have made me so uncomfortable in the past, but after being at Sarah Lawrence, it just didn’t matter. Also, previously, if someone said something that upset me, I would keep quiet or look the other way. Now, I can’t let it pass. I have to ask, “What makes you say that?” or “Why do you think that?” and get into a discussion.

SLC: What will you miss about Sarah Lawrence?

TW: There is a stereotype sometimes created by the East that Western people only let you in to a point, and you’ll never really be accepted. That was completely incorrect. My friends here have become my family. So much changed for me that graduating will be like leaving home again, but really leaving home this time.