"The journey to post-20s wisdom"

On May 5, PBS watched with pride as graduating senior Gayatri Thiru delivered the student speech at the 2023 undergraduate commencement ceremony.


By any standard Thiru is a high achiever. A double major in finance and neuroscience, she is a graduate of two IU schools, the Kelley School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences. She gained some highly competitive positions in the Kelley School’s Investment Banking Workshop and as an undergraduate researcher in the lab of PBS Professor Jeff Alberts. All the while she volunteered in organizations at IU and in the community – at the Bloomington courthouse, My Sister’s Closet, and the Autism Mentoring Program, among others – and took on leadership roles in the Kelley School and elsewhere.

But there’s more. Thiru also paid for her education by joining the U.S. Army Reserve, leaving the campus one weekend every month, and missing her second semester freshman year altogether and a half semester along the way to complete combat training. And still, she learned to play the electric guitar and participate in IU’s Beekeeping Club.

Perhaps it was this level of activity – and its enormous challenges – from which she derived some hard-won advice for her 7,000 or so classmates gathered at the stadium, many of whom, as she knew firsthand, are struggling with uncertainty and anxiety about the future. To them she suggested that the solution to this insecurity “isn’t simply to decide what you want to do, but to let yourself be guided by your desire to know. Seek out opportunities to learn, nurture multiple passions, and let these stand as pillars in your journey to post 20’s wisdom.” It was this, she says, that “allowed my vitality as an individual to emerge” as she explored multiple pathways at IU.


Seek out opportunities to learn, nurture multiple passions, and let these stand as pillars in your journey to post 20’s wisdom

– Gayatri Thiru


Thiru now begins a job as a financial analyst on Wall Street but says she may ultimately pursue her passion for neuroscience research. Her work in the Alberts Lab, the courses of such PBS professors as Norbert Hajos and Anne Prieto, and her experience as an “autism mentor” with a student at Binford Elementary, are among her treasured IU experiences.

“I really love science,” she says, and with respect to her work as a mentor, adds, that “getting any kind of social experience in my own community further reminds me why I love science and research. It is helpful to go out and have these experiences.”

And with that recognition, we wish her and her classmates well on their “journey to post-20’s wisdom,” wherever it might lead them.


Science Writer