Bishwarup Sarkar’s Commencement Address and Reflections on Northeastern’s Graduate Class of 2024

The Northeastern College of Science Class of 2024 is gearing up for commencement! At this year’s graduation ceremony, Bishwarup Sarkar (Bish) will address his peers, delivering a final inspiring message. Eager to capture the anticipation of commencement, I spoke with Bishwarup to delve into his experiences at Northeastern and his post-graduation plans. 

Bish is originally from Pune, India, a city near Mumbai, and moved to Boston to complete his second master’s degree at Northeastern. After completing his bachelor’s and first master’s degree in microbiology in India, Bish realized that his academic journey was far from over. With a dream to eventually pursue a PhD, he wanted to gain work experience to complement his research background and his mentor, a previous postdoc at Northeastern suggested he look into Northeastern’s master’s program because of its uniqueness. 

“Typically, when international students consider studying in the U.S., they tend to apply to around eight or nine different colleges. For me it was just Northeastern, I only want Northeastern, nothing else,” he says. 

For the past two years, Bish has worked as a research assistant in the Antimicrobial Discovery Center (ADC), a lab led by Dr. Kim Lewis. He feels fortunate to have had the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most talented and like-minded PhD students, postdoctoral researchers, and research scientists during his two-year tenure at ADC. He also believes that the experience he gained working in the ADC has immensely helped him these past two years. Through his major, Bish completed a concentration in molecular biotechnology which included courses that were research-oriented but towards the side of industry which aligned with his goals to explore the world outside of academic lab research. Currently, he is completing his co-op at Moderna, where he is exploring the field of process development and RNA sciences.  

Bish’s recent industrial experience has shifted his perspective away from immediately pursuing a PhD upon graduating from Northeastern. This change stems from his ongoing pursuit of degrees over the past seven years. 

“I’m thinking I’ll work for a couple of years and explore more of the industry side of biotechnology and pharma science. I’m going to go for a PhD, it’s just a matter of time,” says Bishwarup. 

Outside of his academic life, Northeastern has provided a “home away from home”, which has been crucial for him as his family and friends are all in India: “Being here in Boston, I feel like I never left my hometown.” Even after visiting his family last December for the first time in two years, he found himself missing Boston. Some of Bish’s favorite spots in Boston are the Boston Public Library and the Charles River. Bish was able to find community at Northeastern through his background in Indian classical music. During his first semester, he auditioned and joined a couple of music groups, where he enjoyed attending events and making new friends. 

When asked if there was anything he’d say to his younger self who was just starting university as a freshman, Bish kept it simple: “Trust the process.”  

From working in labs, he learned the hard way that things never turn out the way you want it to be – 90% of the time.  

“In my academic career, be it in India or the U.S., I never seemed to land my first choice. I thought I wasn’t good enough, but every outcome always turned out to be the best option for me,” says Bish. 

Something did go his way though, and that is the opportunity to speak at this year’s graduation ceremony. This is the first time Bish is attending a graduation ceremony. After completing his bachelor’s, he had to move to another city for his first master’s which conflicted with his undergraduate graduation. Then the pandemic disrupted his master’s ceremony and eventually, he was in Boston when the ceremony finally happened. Bish revealed that his mother’s dream since he was a child had been to see him and his older brother in a cap and gown at a graduation ceremony. 

“Attending the COS graduation ceremony and the Fenway commencement is very emotional for me and my family. They are excited to see their younger brother and their kid stand up there on the podium, talk, and get his degree,” he says.  

Bish consistently attributes his achievements and success stories to the unwavering support and guidance he received from his family and friends. He’s extremely thankful to all his friends from his lab, classroom and his seniors who helped him every step of the way throughout his two-year journey at Northeastern. He’s particularly thrilled that his older brother can make it, as he’s been one of his biggest inspirations since childhood.  

Congratulations Bishwarup, the College of Science and the community at Northeastern looks forward to celebrating you and all your accomplishments. 

To wrap it up, here are some concluding remarks from Bishwarup:

“Trust the process. Make as many friends as possible. Live life and enjoy!!”