Apsara Mitra (Class of 2020)
by Alex Zhang
One of this week’s TAMStars, Apsara Mitra, spoke with us about connecting with people at TAMS, her time as a senior mentor, and her hopes for the future.
Apsara, tell everyone at TAMS a little about why you initially chose to attend the academy. Were your interests then aligned with your interests now?
Apsara: Honestly, applying to TAMS was a purely impulsive decision. I low-key only applied because my sister (the other TAMStar of the week, Aishwarya) was applying, as she wasn’t completely satisfied with the environment of our previous school.
Apsara: I had found a home in my old school and didn’t really have any intention to leave. When I first got the acceptance letter into TAMS, I was initially surprised and then I kind of went about my life. I didn’t really ever consider [TAMS] as an option. Once my sister got her acceptance, she was already fully committed.
Apsara: At that point my mom gave [us] a subtle ultimatum: either both of us [could] go, or neither of us [would], and, being the beta I am, I caved. To be completely honest, I didn’t really have very many expectations of TAMS and I am kind of glad I didn’t, because in the academic realm I wouldn’t say TAMS was that special. It is the family of friends I got here that I have never experienced elsewhere. The support system is truly something special and something I am so grateful for.
So you're a senior mentor this year. Knowing that the best part of TAMS for you has been your support system, how are you encouraging your juniors to get involved in their community? Do you have any tips for people who feel like they aren't connecting?
Apsara: One of the biggest things I have learned at TAMS is that there is a niche for everyone—however, finding it isn't always easy. As cliche as this might sound, one of the best pieces of advice I can give is to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people. Most folks here are more open to making new friends than they might seem. Also, the support system here is incredible so if you are ever having a rough time, talk to your academic counselor, senior mentors, RAs, therapists, and peers. We are all one big family and everyone one of us has a role.
Apsara: Also, some of the best friendships can be formed during volunteering opportunities like Revive and Elm Fork so make sure to take full advantage of the opportunities at your disposal. Most importantly, get involved!
What do you think your role is at TAMS? Besides being a senior mentor, what other groups and activities are you involved with?
Apsara: As for titles, I am also a Make-a-Wish committee head and theater committee head. Last year, I spent a lot of time with Creating Companions which I found to be a wonderful and humbling experience ([I] highly recommend this to anyone who wants to work with the cutest kids on the face of this planet). I would say, my most important role however, is a social one. Among my peers, whenever anyone is in need of a confidante or even just a listener, I assume that role to the best of my ability. By doing so, I have learned how valuable it is to make sure one feels like his/her/their voice is heard because it can often prevent misunderstandings/miscommunication.
I’d say you’re a great listener. I’m actually not familiar with Creating Companions. What do they do?
Apsara: It is similar to REVIVE however it is more instructional. We go to Bright Mosaic, which is [a] therapy center for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and [we] help them develop life/academic skills to make sure they can participate in societal activities.
It seems like you’re very involved with TAMS volunteering. Was that something that carried over from before you came to TAMS?
Apsara: I wouldn't say I volunteered before to the same extent as I do in TAMS, however, at my old community, I used to volunteer at the public library and organic [a] veggie garden (which was harvested for the local food bank). In addition, I also used to be a golf and academic tutor through a couple [of] organizations. I would say that I've always been a fairly service-oriented person but the opportunities at TAMS really helped me nurture [that] side of my personality.
You've also talked to me about your independent research and I hear that you get to create your own prototypes. What are you working on right now?
Apsara: I am currently trying to optimize a model [that] could theoretically be "clipped" on to exhaust pipes or industrial waste complexes and would contain various biological and synthetic components that would purify the pollutants. The idea is that once something like this is developed, it could [even] be modified for things like sewage pipes.
Alright Apsara, do you have any final advice for TAMS juniors?
Apsara: HAVE FUN! We spend too much of our time worrying about grades and academics—we forget to do what we really enjoy and cherish those around us. TAMS will go by faster than you think, but every moment will help you grow so much. Of course [those moments will help you] grow academically, but [they will also help you] grow as a person. TAMS will throw you lots of curveballs but will also teach you how to throw them. Take chances and make mistakes! Even through all of your goofs, the TAMS community will always be there for you.
Thank you for speaking with us!
Apsara’s sister Aishwarya was the other TAMStar this week. Check out her interview on our website!