Multitudes Within Us

Posted by The Class of 2019

The cohort trip to Santa Fe is regarded as one of the most meaningful weeks you’ll have as a McDermott Scholar. A week of conversations with incredibly thoughtful people, exploring vibrant local cultures, learning how to be a college student—it truly is as significant as everyone makes it out to be. We can all attest to how, over the seven days, our cohort turned into a family.

Our class is filled with Scholars from across the world. We have a lot of strong personalities and numerous, varied passions. Nevertheless, we all fit in and get along with each other. We love each other so much that we’ve crammed the whole class on a small blanket and stacked nearly all nine guys onto one bed. If you don’t believe us, we have proof:

Crammed on the bed

We’ve also been a big ol’ meme ever since we made our class count-off to the lyrics of “Old Town Road” and performed music from Star Wars on kazoos for all of the staff and Scholars on campus. At this point, we’ve decided to embrace our memery. Looking back at Santa Fe has brought back all of the rather interesting things the 18 of us have managed to say. As our grand introduction to the McDermott Blog, we’ve compiled iconic quotes from Santa Fe to be forever commemorated here.

Varun: “Vivian, run!”
Vivian: “I hate nature.”

On the first day of river rafting, the ‘19s were preparing for their excursion at the dock, wondering when and where they would use the bathroom, what “PFD” stood for, and how much sunscreen was too much. All of a sudden, Varun exclaimed, “Vivian, run!” as a wasp attempted to make the unlucky ‘19 its prey. Vivian, who had been stung just a day earlier, went ballistic and made a run for it. However, the ground, who would have none of Vivian’s antics, made the decision to sweep her footing out from under her. She full out face-planted on the ground. Being a few feet away, I witnessed the whole event and it was absolutely hilarious. Yet, I couldn’t laugh at Vivian, as I barely knew her, and I wasn’t about to make an enemy on day two of the trip. Being more than a month removed from the event, I now make fun of her every opportunity I get.


Vivian didn't fall this time!
Vivian didn’t fall this time!


Ted: “Hey guys, look what I found!”

The guides prefaced our second day of rafting with the exclamation to watch out for Rio Grande River wildlife. We saw the typical otters, woodpeckers, eagles, and a multitude of dragonflies; yet as we settled down for lunch, Ted emerged out of the river with HEDGE SHEARS held above his head and a grin slapped on his face. “Hey guys, look what I found!” he shouted. No one knows how or more importantly why those shears ended up in the river. If Harrison couldn’t even stay in the raft, who’s chopping down bushes as they’re being tossed down a class four rapid?


Mere seconds before the splash war began—don't bring hedge shears to a water fight.
Mere seconds before the splash war began—don’t bring hedge shears to a water fight.


Bhaash: “What’s a Pee-Pee Tom?”

After a long day of river rafting, we all gathered around at the campsite to play a game of Mafia. While setting up the rules for the game, Paulina asked if we would play with the character “Peeping Tom.” Bhaash misheard this, and asked the group “What’s a Pee-Pee Tom?” It turns out the very mention of the word “pee-pee” can turn a group of college students right back into immature kindergarteners. A million “pee-pee” jokes later, Pee-Pee Tom has become an iconic character to the ‘19s. While visiting Acoma Pueblo, we all pitched in to buy a traditional clay turtle and named him Tom in honor of Pee-Pee Tom. If you ever visit the McDermott office, you may see him at the front desk!


Bhaash tries to make it rain off of Taos Gorge Bridge
That’s an awfully tall bridge there, guys….


Khalid: “Good night, doctor”

If you’re unfamiliar with Mafia, then know this: the game is run by a “narrator” who tells the players when to “sleep” and “wake up.” As it happens, Khalid is a very, very insistent narrator. So insistent, that our laughter at his insistence only made his task harder. When the doctor character refused to “go to bed”, the rest of the snoozing characters heard the increasingly beleaguered Khalid, in his endearing Bengali accent, implore, “good night, doctor.” “Good night, doctor.” GOOD NIGHT, DOCTOR.”


The New Mexican night sky, captured by the amazing Harrison Dal Ponte. Good night, indeed, doctor.


Paulina: “I just LOVE Carbon!”

On the plane ride to Albuquerque, I found myself seated next to Paulina. As the plane took off, so did our conversation about politics. Naturally, it eventually turned to environmental issues (ha, see what I did there?). I mentioned something about our carbon footprint, and Paulina lit up, exclaiming, “I just LOVE carbon!” as if she were talking about her favorite dessert. I laughed, and she quickly proceeded to clarify that she loves talking about the carbon footprint and was not, in fact, in love with an element on the periodic table.


After dinner on the first day of rafting, we took a nice lil’ hike down to the river to see where we’d be adventuring the next day.


Elijah: “I gotta get my Latin on!”

While camping next to the Rio Grande river, all of the scholars sat around a campfire—in the rain—and started telling spooky stories. As people volunteered to tell the creepiest tale they could, Elijah mentioned he had a true account to tell. In a nutshell, his old house in Detroit was cursed. After describing the nature of the haunting, the involvement of a priest, and a secret door with a hidden story, he famously said he had to “get [his] Latin on!”


A simply beautiful doorway, though not the one in Elijah’s story. The architectural style was definitely one of the most stunning parts of the trip.


Elijah: “ABQ means BBQ for lunch, right?”

After visiting the Acoma pueblo, we had all worked up quite an appetite. Elijah and I were looking at the itinerary, and he saw the abbreviation ABQ. Elijah assumed that ABQ stood for a type of barbecue and happily inferred that we were all going to a barbecue place for lunch. He was quite disappointed when we informed him that ABQ is just an abbreviation for Albuquerque and that it just meant we were flying home.


Sampling the local Santa Fe cuisine.
Sampling the local Santa Fe cuisine—one might call it ABQ.


Areeba: “Ice cubes are just water croutons.”

Areeba LOVES chewing on ice and her artistic mind led her to create this poetic comparison. Honestly, she’s right, and I appreciate ice cubes a lot more now.  


Dominic isn't called "The Dogfather" without reason!
Dominic isn’t called “The Dogfather” without reason!


Varun: “The best relationships last a month.”

Each night was a chance to open up to each other, to learn about our shared histories and unique experiences. We’d had different experiences in each of our pasts, but the length and content of our relationships became some of the greatest stories we shared with each other. Varun, despite the general consensus around the room, then shared his favorite type of relationship: the shortest ones. A few looked confused, some unsettled, and a couple chuckled. We know now that he was wrong, because it’s been two months, and the friendships we’ve made are the best we’ve ever had. Varun might think that relationships are only good for a month, but we know that the best relationships might last like at least three.



The boys, goofing around as usual and forming three-month friendships.

Varun: “I’m a metal dragon.”
Taylor: “No, you’re a dirt dragon!”

Looking back at Santa Fe, it’s hard to believe that we started the trip as eighteen strangers. One of our favorite bus games was to identify each other as various objects, TV characters, shapes, dragons, and anything else we could think of. All of these characterizations were surprisingly accurate. I could tell how close we had all quickly gotten when we would point at a person and say, “oh, she’s a grape.” It’s hard to explain the vibe that corresponds with a “dirt dragon,” but meet Varun and you’ll quickly agree (We love you, Varun). As for me, I still don’t know what oval energy means but I’m willing to trust my fellow ‘19s on that.


The bus
This bus is the home to many absolutely hilarious stories and, of course, naps.


Bhaash: “Meme this. Sorry wrong chat.”

The MCMEMERS ‘19 GroupMe chat is home to a collection of deep fried memes of the ‘19 scholars. One day, a horribly awkward picture was taken of me, and we believed it needed some meme-ing. Bhaash sent the picture into a groupme chat with the caption “Meme this” at 12:13 AM, and about 30 seconds later, we realized that Bhaash sent it into the chat with ALL of the staff members. Then came the “Sorry, wrong chat,” which sent us into a frenzy of laughter. To all the staff members: I’m sorry you had to see that cringey picture of me. To Bhaash: I will get you back for this one day 🙂


Bhaash wanted to make a meme, and now he is the meme.
Bhaash wanted to make a meme, and now he is the meme.


Elijah: “Why are you having a mental breakdown?”
Paulina: “Because it’s hot here.”

Paulina was looking down, so someone asked what was going on; she responded with the aforementioned quote. Apparently, it’s not as hot in Massachusetts as it is in New Mexico!


Despite the swelter, we trekked all over New Mexico, such as here at the Acoma Pueblo.


Khalid: “Look at that small rabbit!”

Over the past two months, Khalid has been completely immersed in American culture. He has been shocked by the unlimited refills at restaurants, frozen cold by any weather under 80 degrees, exposed to the greatness of Whataburger, and utterly confused by squirrels (I guess they don’t have them in Malaysia). After Santa Fe, we came back to campus where Khalid saw a squirrel scurrying up a tree. Having never seen the creature before, he exclaimed, “look at that small rabbit!”


Absorbing the beauty of Ghost Ranch. And, in Khalid’s case, wondering how that small rabbit is climbing a tree.


“Do better. Try harder. Special dog.”

Meow Wolf museum was such a fun time. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s like a giant art exhibit/maze/haunted house/magical wonderland where you walk through a house and discover a bunch of different “psychedelic realms.” A group of us and the ‘16 Scholars that had joined us in Santa Fe went on our free day, and we spent the day exploring the whole museum. It was super quirky and there were a ton of cute photo ops. The ‘19s all bought little buttons that said “Try Harder” and “Do Better” on them to motivate us through our first year of college and the ‘16s bought buttons with a haphazardly drawn dog plastered on the front.


Meow Wolf
Meow Wolf, featuring our wonderful ‘16 scholar-advisers, Brian and Sara!


Ted: “I have a low tolerance for human beings”

Tedothy (a.k.a. Tedward, a.k.a The Notorious T.E.D.) is an irreplaceable character in our family. While many suffer from FOMO and a need to participate, Ted is the complete opposite. Oftentimes, he will declare at random, “My social meter is at 5%” and suddenly retreat from the group setting, maybe to be seen again at dinner if we’re lucky. I can’t quite pinpoint the exact time this quote was said by Ted, but it’s a sentiment that continues to be reflected to this day. Nevertheless, we all benefit from Ted’s frankness and extremely varying social energy.


Ted: “I hate time.”

We were at the Jemez Pueblo, and Dominic had just explained how its people do not base their lives on a clock, instead basing time off of life’s daily activities. We left our phones on the bus so we had no idea what the time was. Ted mentioned how much he enjoyed it and how our society should follow the example of the Jemez Pueblo. He hates time.


Ted may hate time, but he loved the Santa Fe plaza!
Ted may hate time, but he loved the Santa Fe plaza!

Taylor: “Guys, why did Khalid feel like a goat—I actually don’t know.”

The class historians recorded that Khalid once said he feels like a goat. Taylor was supposed to write about it for the blog post, but he couldn’t remember the context. In fact, nobody could. It seems that Khalid is so astoundingly interesting that iconic lines are obscured by even more iconic ones. We love our G.O.A.T.—every day, he utters a quote so fascinating that it must be written down. As a consequence, Taylor implored his peers to explain to him why Khalid was feeling rather caprine that day. Their failure to recall, and subsequent bewildered laughter, led to the moment, approximately noontime on the ninth of October, that Taylor seemed to have his last modicum of sanity eclipsed by goat-thoughts. He was last seen vigorously typing about himself in the third person while riding a Razor scooter towards the Jindal School of Management. If sighted, please notify Reena Schellenberg.


Varun and Taylor are the best '19 McDermotts. No cap. Love you boo
What are they looking at? We’ll never know. Use your creativity.


Silliness aside, to close out our first appearance on the blog, we wanted to express how thankful we are for the McDermott family.

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes.” ―Walt Whitman

Why do we, as freshmen McDermott Scholars, travel to New Mexico? The trip is a time for the class to form lifelong bonds. It is a time for reflection on the impending shift from high school to university, and it is a time for contemplation about both our individual and collective psyches. The visionaries of the McDermott Scholarship conceived a program where young people embarked on a journey to adulthood together, improving their university and community along the way. They also knew that the absolute best guidance was necessary. There are five wonderful people who facilitate our journey, whose positive impact on us continues daily.

They, the McDermott staff, made the trip what it was. Because between the rafting, the touring, the hiking and the eating, common themes of growth and introspection were weaved together. Many a night we spent together as a group, huddled around Dominic. The room was hushed and our gazes intense as he paraphrased Whitman: “There are multitudes within you.” That moment was, is, eternal and unforgettable; those words will last with us forever. These four years are for us to explore our multitudes, to turn our talents into strengths, to find new sides of ourselves and use them to make the world better. There are five amazing humans who will be there for us every step of the way and we’re truly grateful to have them in our lives.


Thank you, Reena, Sherry, Eric, Dominic, and Mashal.  

The Class of 2019




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