Purpose through Research and Action that Matter

This week, we heard from two BUA alumni at all-school meetings. Dheekshita Kumar ‘16 spoke about her career as an entrepreneur and the ways her BUA experience set her down that path. She told us about the time when she and her friends published a book of poetry as high schoolers with the support and guidance of their English teacher, who demystified self-publishing. She described the process of envisioning and launching BUA’s middle school model UN tournament (BUAMUN), which has now become an institution. The confidence she gained from her experiences bringing an idea to life at BUA gave her a lifelong I-can-do-that attitude, which has translated into entrepreneurial success at an early age during and after college doing socially meaningful work.

We also heard from Jon Freeman ’04, the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Award. Jon is a professor and researcher at Columbia University studying social psychology, combining that field with neural imaging to better understand decision-making broadly and implicit bias more specifically. He has also done some important data-gathering work related to LGBTQ+ representation in STEM. He described the BUA roots of his passion for psychology and neuroscience, having had a chance to explore those fields in BU courses as a high schooler. He has found a way in his adult life to take those areas of academic passion and produce insights and data that are changing the way we think about stereotype, bias, and a range of related – sometimes life and death – issues. 

BUA’s strategic vision challenges us to help students “find purpose through research and action that matter.” We know that having a sense of purpose is one of the central components of emotional well being. Purpose is different than passion; it involves finding ways to contribute to something important and bigger than ourselves. I am delighted that we have graduates like Dheekshita and John who model that and inspire today’s BUA students to start on their path to purpose while they are here with us.

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