Ritwik Baksi: Why I Give

Through Service Comes Discovery
By Emma Streckenbein, Honors College Student Affairs Graduate Intern | May 25, 2020

Senior Ritwik Baksi, a cell biology and neuroscience major and computer science minor, has spent the last several years making a difference in the lives of others within the Honors College (HC), Rutgers University, the New Brunswick community, and beyond. It was Ritwik’s own experiences that initially paved the way for his desire to serve.

“I was very lost in high school; I frequently got in trouble and had a difficult home life,” recalled Ritwik. “I was lacking guidance and a pillar of support. Luckily I had two teachers who provided that to me. Without that guidance I don’t know if I would be the same person who I proudly am today. Experiencing that kindness compelled me to try and pay that back in the form of community service.”

After graduating from Rutgers University next month, Ritwik intends to enlist in the US Army’s Special Operations and plans to attend medical school afterwards. In doing so, Ritwik will continue to use his time and talents to serve others.

“For me, inequity in education and helping troubled youth are the issues that I am most passionate about,” said Ritwik. “Specifically I have been actively involved in the Youth Empowerment Club, as a tutor, coordinator, E-Board member, and eventually vice president.”

One of Ritwik’s favorite parts about serving as a leader within the Youth Empowerment Club is his involvement in A2E, which stands for access to education. A2E provides elementary school children with after-school tutoring services to prepare and engage them in educational opportunities.

“I believe that early intervention with struggling students is important, as the early years are when a child’s image of him or herself is most malleable,” said Ritwik.

“Bettering the education level of an area that is struggling is one of the most impactful ways to improve the conditions—we empower the community to help itself.”

In addition to his work with the Youth Empowerment Club, Ritwik has served the HC community as a Mentor in Residence, supporting and empowering HC students as they transition to life at the HC.

“Seeing what the Honors College has achieved within the past five years is inspiring,” said Ritwik. “I have a lot of faith that the commitment to service will continue as one of the core tenets of the Honors College.”

Ritwik believes that engaging in long-term service opportunities with community partners through the HC and beyond can broaden one’s perspective of the profound impact that giving can have on a community. “Sometimes we forget that Rutgers is a part of the New Brunswick community,” said Ritwik. “Each time a student engages with the community, we add building blocks to that connection, but it’s an on-going process.”

Ritwik’s service experiences have equipped him with a community-driven perspective, the ambition and desire to serve others, and the ability to critically reflect on his lived experiences.

“Service has changed me for the better in countless ways — some of which I haven’t fully understood yet. We often jump into service with lofty ideas and romanticized notions of fulfillment—at least I had those notions,” said Ritwik.

“What I quickly learned was how much grit is required in service. Despite the difficulties, I learned so much about myself and what I’m capable of, and I feel a sense of purpose in my life.”

Whether it is through long-term involvement in service projects or sustained mentorship of new HC students, Ritwik has generously and passionately shared his gifts with the HC in countless ways.

“I believe that when we are struggling ourselves, one of the best things we can do is help another person,” said Ritwik. “This is the crux of humanity to me.”