SHETTY & TRIVEDI: The Lasting Value of Peers in Education
[and Service]

Professor Steenhuisen was just the sort of sweet, grizzled presence that I needed to ease into university life. She posed questions to students with immense tenderness, smiling at every response as if she had never heard anything as poignant in her 20 years at Georgetown.

During my last visit to her office, she told me “to take all the good in life and leave everything else behind.”

At the time, I remember thinking I had already found the best “good.” After all, I met Naman in Professor Steenhuisen’s class. We sat next to each on the first day. Naman — sagging jeans, bright flip-flops, UC Berkeley t-shirt — leaned over and asked if I was on the waitlist.

I was. “Cool,” Naman said. A week later, we were both off the waitlist and “Problem of God” soon became the staple of my first semester.

Professor Steenhuisen’s class consisted of four “credos.” These were 15-page essays — though the word “essay” perhaps belies the endeavor’s informality. Credos were a seamless blend of textual analysis and personal reflection. They were a space to let ideas marinate, settle and sink in.

Naman and I worked on a few of these credos side by side. I mostly watched as he attempted to write 15 pages in one night. It was a messy and heavy affair — threading together cohesive thoughts about God and existence is not for the faint of heart.

Those nights, and many others with Naman, are the best classes I’ve ever taken.

Naman is one of the most gifted teachers I have ever had. He has never given me a problem set or delivered a lecture, but he has an insatiable thirst for knowledge. That thirst — that desire to dabble in many disciplines, to weave together disparate insights with relative ease, to cultivate a healthy entrepreneurial streak — is contagious.

Two summers ago, Rohan and I went to watch “Boyhood” at E Street Cinema downtown. Still full from grabbing pizza beforehand, we decide to walk from E Street to Burleith. Over the two hours, we reminisced on everything from our childhood and cultural heritage, growing up Indian, to American politics; I once again tried to convince him on several nonsensical startup ideas.

“Problem of God” will have been the only class we have taken together in college, and while all-nighters cemented Lauinger as the antithesis of happiness, they were also a serious exercise in peer-driven education.

I have learned more from Rohan than most of my classes at Georgetown. His level of patience is unmatched; he is not one to talk for the sake of talking. He is quick to build emotional connections with all of his friends because it is clear — through his calm tone, awkward giggles, and ridiculous hypothetical questioning — that he truly cares.

Indeed, over the past four years, parts of our friends have been irrevocably chiselled into our cores:

Josh’s ability to fuse levity and focus so gracefully; Tarren’s incredible warmth and comfort in his own skin; Danny’s endlessly admirable brotherly love and ability to lead; Max’s conciliatory nature and infectious spurts of creativity; Emily’s unabashed charisma, a beacon for us all; Allie’s wonderful appetite for life, her selflessness and compassion for others. Anirudha is one of the truest friends we will ever meet — kind to a fault with his selfless attitude, ear-to-ear smile and endlessly inquisitive mind. Lanier’s cheerful wisdom, her air of prescience always so timely; Shweta’s listening ear, her elegance and unshakeable kindness. She’ll always be there for you at moment’s notice — just after she finishes introducing Bernie Sanders to Georgetown.

We could go on. In a sense, we’re only as good as our peers.

Georgetown is a special place — it’s filled with incredible characters with incredible stories and experiences, all wonderfully cuddled inside the front gates.  Make no mistake: In college, your peers are your education. In them, you will find kernels of truth no textbook can express and a sameness that is deeply unsettling. Cling to your peers and you will find the education for which you came.


Rohan shetty is a senior in the McDonough School of Business. Naman Trivedi is a senior in the School of Foreign Service. This is the final appearance of [and Service] this semester.

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One Comment

  1. Astrid Weigert says:

    Dear Rohan and Naman,
    while I like the general gist of your article, I was appalled by your description of my colleague Prof. Lauve Steenhuisen as ” sweet grizzled presence”. What were you trying to get across with the adjective “grizzled”?

    I’m sure Prof. Steenhuisen taught you that every word matters.

    P.S.: No, she does not know I’m writing this comment and I hope she did not read your description of her.
    With best regards,
    Astrid Weigert
    Teaching Professor
    Department of German

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