French Fries on Sandwiches: Why I Chose Pitt

(from left to right) Me and my roommates, James Wood and Mathew Varughese, standing in front of Fort Duquesne Bridge in Downtown Pittsburgh. As Pitt students, free bus passes give us the opportunity to explore the city!

I am proud to call the University of Pittsburgh my family. Yet, as I look back at my senior year of high school, this revelation did not seem so clear. When choosing where to go for undergrad, everyone would tell me to pick the school that gave me “the feeling,” like I belonged there. To me, “the feeling” felt like a myth. I mean, c’mon, how can you decide where you want to spend four years of your life from one campus tour? It just didn’t make sense to me. So instead of choosing my undergraduate education based on “the feeling,” I took a much more logical approach—I chose Pitt because of french fries on sandwiches.

I was drawn to the opportunities of Pitt’s Honors College, such as scholarships and research stipends.

Growing up in suburban Philly, my only understanding of Pittsburgh was that the people put french fries on their sandwiches. So naturally, this delicacy was the first thing my Dad and I tried when we visited Pitt in Fall 2016. After lunch at Primanti Bros., with a stomach full and warm, we walked to Alumni Hall for our campus tour. As a pre-medical student, what intrigued most about Pitt’s campus was one word: opportunity. With UPMC hospitals in walking distance, the Pitt student could volunteer with patients in the morning and make it back in time for their Chemistry lab at noon. I was drawn to the opportunities of Pitt’s Honors College, such as scholarships and research stipends. For a student interested in healthcare, Pitt was and is the ultimate package deal.

As we walked around campus, my admiration grew. Pitt’s central arteries, Fifth avenue and Forbes avenue, were populated with restaurants, shops, and students. Students that knew where they wanted to go and who they wanted to be. Students that navigated campus with confidence and purpose, like Pitt was their home. The lawns were crowded with students practicing instruments, playing ultimate frisbee, advocating for sustainability, or just talking with friends. Flyers advertising student clubs and organizations took over telephone poles. When the tour was over, I felt embraced by a sea of blue and gold—Pitt Pride. And it was the friendliness, passion and drive from the University of Pittsburgh’s student body that stuck with me the most.

My Why Pitt? moment never came from “one feeling,” but a bunch of feelings.

My Why Pitt? moment really never came from “one feeling,” but, like any good sandwich, a layer of feelings (okay, so I guess this whole “french fries on sandwiches” thing was kind of a metaphor). If Pitt’s beautiful campus is the bread, it’s abundance of opportunities—ranging from research to community service and student organizations—are the layers of meats and cheeses and sauces. As for the fries? Well, fries are Pitt students. As Pitt students, we soak up all of the amazing opportunities Pitt has to offer—everything on the sandwich—and we make our own mark on campus. My Why Pitt? moment never came from “one feeling,” but a bunch of feelings. After realizing how many opportunities the university offered its undergraduates, I wanted to be the fries. And since freshman year, I have stacked my sandwich to include public health research, elementary school tutoring, writing for The Pitt Pulse, and volunteering with my pre-health fraternity, Delta Epsilon Mu.

So to any prospective Pitt student, here is my two-cents: Be french fries on top of glorious sandwiches. Don’t miss out on any opportunity the university gives you. Soak everything up and never turn down an experience at Pitt. Some may be outside of your comfort zone. Some may give you life-long friends. The important thing is that you try. You will be more well-rounded, successful students for it. And when graduation comes around, Pitt will be your family and you will miss it like hell.

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