Goodnight Spotlight: Lahari Revuri

Studying abroad in France, securing her Global Perspectives Certificate, working for ClassTech: Good luck keeping up with Lahari Revuri ’20.

Goodnight Scholars Program: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lahari Revuri ’20: I was born in India and I moved to the United States when I was still an infant. My family moved often when I was younger. I lived in New York, Connecticut, Minnesota, Texas, Florida, and in a few other places before moving to Greensboro, North Carolina at the start of eighth grade. I attended an early college high school, and although I gained a lot of invaluable knowledge on different aspects of college life, I had to quit doing a lot of the things I was interested in due to the academic rigor of my school. I no longer had time to participate in community theatre at the Greensboro Cultural Center, and I eventually gave up on participating in math contests since I was intimidated by the students competing at the high school level. However, being at an early college that heavily encouraged participation in student clubs allowed me to find new things that I was interested in. I was an active member of almost twelve clubs for at least one year during my time in high school. I was the treasurer and editor for the Literary Club, where I learned a lot about design for print publication. I was also the treasurer for the International Club, which held monthly meetings on topics related to global awareness and hosted an International Festival at the end of the year. Through the Environmental Club and the Rotary Club, I was able to volunteer for organizations like Greensboro Beautiful and the Welfare Reform Liaison Project. I actually completed more than 300 hours of service by time I graduated and I was a Service Learning Ambassador for my school.

My participation in student clubs during high school inspired a lot of my current interests and passions. For example, I decided to pursue the Global Perspectives Certificate because of the good memories I created while spending time learning about different countries and cultures in International Club. Service started out as something I was forced to do to account for the differences in seat time at an early college, but I came to truly enjoy it. I have shared countless stories with people that I would have otherwise never met, like a staff member of the fair trade organization Ten Thousand Villages or a tutor for middle school students at Operation XCEL. I realized how much I loved listening to others’ life experiences and it has even changed the way I view communication. In particular, understanding the importance of personal stories has greatly influenced my perspective on open dialogue within and between social justice groups. Although I have not been as active in college as I was in high school, service is still an important part of my life. I discovered the relationship between technology and art in the Literary Club when I was designing our magazine digitally and editing pages for text and images so that they would print well in the final publication. I loved the interdisciplinary nature of technology and being aware of that helped contribute to me definitively picking computer science as my major.

If you had to summarize your personality in one sentence, what would it say?

I am an independent, resourceful, and loyal person who is currently working on gaining more emotional intelligence and, as this sentence suggests, I am pretty straightforward too.

How would you describe your life as an NC State student?

My life as an NC State student involves a lot of conflict between my disparate interests. Some of the conflict stems from logistics, because as a computer science major with minors in sociology and French, I always have to pick classes so that I have time to travel between Main Campus and Centennial Campus. The rest of the conflict has to do with my desire to graduate in three years.

When I am not running around NC State for my classes or my degree audit, I am running around for work. I work with OIT’s ClassTech as a field technician. I help professors when they run into technical issues, I upgrade equipment, and I conduct classroom equipment checks. I have enjoyed learning about audiovisual systems and campus technology, as well as how to drive a large equipment van. Work definitely makes my life as a student busier, but I appreciate it nonetheless. Outside of both work and class, I am a part of the University Scholars Program. I love gaining access to Arts NC State events through USP, or going on a hike in Umstead Park with other students. Even though USP events are academic obligations much like anything else, attending an on-campus seminar on an interesting topic is a highly valued respite from classes.

When I have free time, I tend to relax somewhere on the upper floors of Hunt Library, or near the Community Centers in Talley Student Union. I was pretty involved with the GLBT Center’s weekly groups last year, and I attended a conference on diversity and leadership called INTERSECT at Elon University through the Women’s Center. Although I never spent much time in the CSLEPS office, participating in an Alternative Service Break and attending the Leadershape Institute has put me in contact with a lot of the amazing people that work there and elsewhere on campus. I have found a lot of great opportunities through CSLEPS, like being an orientation leader for the incoming international graduate students. My participation in these community centers brings a lot of meaning to my life as an NC State student and I will definitely continue to be involved in their future programming.

Is there a particular accomplishment you’ve made at NC State that fills you with pride?

During the summer 2017 term, I took six credit hours in a study abroad program to satisfy requirements for the University Scholars Program, the Global Perspectives Certificate, and my French minor, and I managed to pay for it completely through scholarships and grant money. Shortly after entering college, I started looking at the requirements for the various programs I was a part of and I decided to plan out my course schedules for every semester until graduation. I realized that I could not participate in semester study abroad as I had already finished taking my GEPs and it would be practically impossible to find a program where I could take eighteen credit hours of classes for my computer science major and sociology minor. I knew that I had to find a summer program with at least six transferable credit hours in French. There was only one program offered by NC State that allowed me to do this, but at face-value, it was financially out of my range. I looked online for other programs but my options were limited for the summer as most organizations only offered a total of three credit hours in French. I decided that the NC State French program was the best option for me, and I began applying for scholarships through the Study Abroad Office.

A couple days before leaving for France, I started to feel uneasy since I was not sure if I would be able to place into the level of French I needed to get the correct course credit for my French minor. During my first semester, I opted to take a 200-level class in French language, culture, and technology instead of a 300-level class as the course content interested me more. I was worried that I had made the wrong decision and that my language skills would now be too weak to place me in the 300-level course equivalent in France. On the day of the placement exam, I felt a little better when I realized I had more grammar issues than comprehension issues, because the former can be studied. I fared slightly worse on the oral exam since I barely know how to answer a “tell me about yourself” question in English, but luckily by the end, the topic of the conversation had switched to something I felt a lot more comfortable discussing – immigrants and refugees in Europe. I actually placed into the highest level French class in the program and my final grade for the transfer course was an A+ ! I know I have a lot of future accomplishments and failures to look forward to during the rest of my time at NC State, but everything I accomplished related to study abroad holds a special place in my heart because it really gave me the confidence boost I needed after an academically challenging year.

To me, being a Goodnight Scholar means demonstrating ideals like responsible leadership, social engagement, global awareness, and “paying it forward” as best I can…

What is one experience you need to have at NC State before you graduate?

I would love to participate in a University Theatre production at least once before I graduate! I did theatre through middle school and partially into high school, sometimes as a cast member but more often as a crew member. This past year, I have enjoyed many of the UT productions by attending them through the University Scholars Program, and I think it would be nice to show them my appreciation for the quality work they do by volunteering backstage. I know how much of a time commitment it can be though, so I hope my schedule allows for participation in the future.

Tell us about your time in the Goodnight Scholars Program.

I have only been a part of the Goodnight family for a year, but I have already gained so much from the Goodnight Scholars Program. Actually, even before I was accepted into the Program, I had my first interview experience on Finalist Interview Day and got my first look at NC State’s beautiful campus when I toured Hunt Library that same day. Since then, the Summer Retreat and the Goodnight Mentor Program helped me adjust to life at NC State without major difficulties. When I did have issues, GS Pro Staff were always there to lend an ear and listen to my problems, whether it concerned housing, my classes, or even my US citizenship application. GSP 250 and 251 were also important for my smooth transition to NC State. Having attended an early college, I was familiar with a lot of the technical skills I needed as a college student, like writing good emails. However, I attended a small liberal arts college where the students addressed professors by name, the classes were never larger than twenty students, and sports were not integral to campus identity. I was in no way prepared for NC State’s environment. During First-Year Seminar, I felt like I gained a lot of NC State-specific cultural capital that made me generally feel more at ease on campus.

Any unforgettable moments thus far from your time in the Goodnight Scholars community?

Most people feel at least a little anxious about public speaking, regardless of how much experience they have or how much they enjoy it. I would include past-me in that majority, specifying that I was more than a little anxious, had minimal experience, and did not enjoy it at all. This is why the impromptu speech I had to give during the first semester of the First-Year Seminar is one of my unforgettable memories in the Goodnight Scholars Program thus far. I remember that Jay was glancing around, holding the last of the dreaded speech prompts in his hand, when I made my way to Daniels 218. He saw me and handed it to me, and since it was the first session of the semester and the sheet of paper was folded, I had no idea what was happening until I sat down and read the prompt. I had to give a thirty second speech on my hometown, and I was frankly terrified despite the brief time limit and the simple topic. I hurriedly wrote down phrases about my hometown on the sheet and I stressed out about not being able to make something perfect. I was either the last or second-to-last person to go up as I was not brave enough to volunteer like some of my better classmates. I remember saying at least a few of the sentences that I practiced, but in the end, it was easier for me to just say whatever came to mind until the short thirty seconds ran out. I did not feel any relief when I finished, just regret as I silently reviewed what I said. However, with the temporal distance of a few days, I started to feel a bit differently about the experience. I reasoned that if I had been able to meet the minimum requirements for the speech despite a lack of preparation, I would definitely be able to accomplish a lot more for a prepared speech. Even though I still do not enjoy public speaking, I know I am less anxious about it and more likely to pursue opportunities that have a public speaking component now.

What does being a Goodnight Scholar mean to you?

Being a Goodnight Scholar truly goes beyond just my academic life and professional life. Of course, I have definitely received a lot of support from the Program on those fronts, whether it was by getting feedback on interviews with Jay, learning the art of poster presentations during First-Year Seminar, receiving useful advice from GS Pro Staff regarding study abroad, or making a LinkedIn alongside my fellow scholars. When I think about what it means to be a Goodnight Scholar though, the Program’s impact on my personal life comes to mind before anything else. When I read the learning objectives for the Goodnight Scholars Program for the first time, I recognized that many of the Program’s values were similar to my own. I realized if I was going to describe myself as a Goodnight Scholar, I had to always act in accordance with my values and take advantage of opportunities where I can develop them. To me, being a Goodnight Scholar means demonstrating ideals like responsible leadership, social engagement, global awareness, and paying it forward as best I can, whether in-person or online, on-campus or off-campus. Being a Goodnight Scholar has become a part of my personal identity and I am proud to carry that responsibility regardless of what context I am in.

Where do you picture yourself after graduation?

After graduation, I would like to obtain a Master of Science in analytics from the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NC State. I am currently pursuing the Global Perspectives Certificate and I completed my French minor this past summer, so I hope I will be putting these two things to good use by working abroad in a Francophone country after completing my graduate-level education. I see myself working for a socially responsible company where I can freely combine my interests in technology, culture, and service on the job.

Photography credit: Jason Perry/Goodnight Scholars Program