All about Co-Curriculars

Shreya Chowdhary '22

Hey folks!

I’m Shreya, and I’m a first year at Olin. Anecdotally, though, I’m known as the Queen of Overcommitting--which is a little problematic at a place like Olin, where literally everything is exciting. One of my favorite activities on campus that I’ve been engaging with this semester has been the three (yes, three!) co-curriculars that I am part of.

Co-curriculars are chill ‘classes’ taught voluntarily by staff and faculty, usually designed around the staff or faculty member’s personal interests and values. I say ‘classes’ loosely, because co-curriculars can take so many forms. Some co-curriculars are focused around personal hobbies (see: pottery, sustainable beekeeping, and showtunes cardio). Other staff and faculty use co-curriculars to share some of their personal values and goals with students (see: public interest tech clinic, creative dialogue practices and climate change). There are so many cool co-curriculars, and honestly, picking only three co-curriculars to commit too was a real struggle. If you’re interested in seeing some examples, here are the fall '18 and spring '19 co-curriculars!

Co-curriculars represent a lot of the reasons why I decided to come to Olin in the first place. The fact that our (very busy!) faculty and staff would willingly choose to spend some of their precious free time with students is kinda wild and I think really speaks to how Olin is a truly student-centered college, and that the faculty and staff who come here did so because they really did want to interact with students.

The three co-curriculars I’m part of are pretty different, but represent some major cultural parts of Olin. I’m part of the Identity and Engineering co-curricular, which has existed basically since the conception of Olin to provide a space where students could discuss the impacts of not fitting the ‘typical’ profile of an engineer. We discuss how gender and race intersects with our identities as engineers. As a woman of color myself, I’m deeply grateful to have a space where I can not only share my personal experiences with these issues, but to develop skills and a network that can support me throughout my collegiate and professional life. Olin isn’t a perfect place in terms of race or gender issues, but the fact that such a space exists (and has always existed and hopefully will always exist) makes me very optimistic about the future.

I’m also part of the Public Interest Tech Clinic co-curricular, which is similarly focused in the area of engineering and social context. As part of the public interest tech clinic, I’m starting a consulting group at Olin that connects Olin students to nonprofits/social ventures that need technical work done, but don’t have the bandwidth/skills to do so, in an effort to integrate social good and meaningful, impactful work with our education. The PIT clinic speaks to the culture at Olin of creating impact from day one, which is one of my favorite parts of Olin.

The third co-curricular I’m part of is slightly different. I’m part of the Experimental Reading co-curricular, where we read all sorts of things that are ~experimental~ in various ways. To contextualize this, our first reading included a set of memes. The Experimental Reading co-curricular is a great way to escape the world of engineering and to talk to some exciting people (especially the staff who are leading the co-curricular! Love you Pete and Adva <3) about some really fascinating pieces (that are often student-chosen too!). The great thing is that our conversations always lead to meaningful conclusions about my definition of myself or my understanding of the world, which is why I look forward to every session of the co-curricular.

Anyways--now I’ve got to leave to, coincidentally, read a play for Experimental Reading. Look out for more ramblings about my adventures here soon!


P.S. Congratulations to any newly admitted students reading this! :)

Posted in: Shreya '22, Class of 2022