Palak Bhandari

I met Palak Bhandari when I was a Freshman. Friends with one of my roommates, she often frequented our triple. After a few weeks of candid comments like "Hello, what's up?" and "Good Afternoon," we soon discovered our mutual love of Top Chef. Since then, it has been incredible to go through the Bryn Mawr experience together, and to see her rise through the ranks here on campus.

Head of the Peer Mentors, members of the Dorm Leadership Team who specialize in helping with academic dilemnas and advice; an active member of the Self Care Committee, a group in charge of promoting wellness across campus; the AMO (Alliance of Multicultural Organizations) Student Coordinator, and a member of the Senior Gift Committee, Palak is one busy bee with many friends and allies across many different parts of the college. Aside from these accomplishments, she was also the Co-President of the South Asian Students Club and a member of the Badminton Team, thus widening her fans and aquaintences. Her known presence here is clearly evident when you make meal plans with her and it takes at least fifteen minutes for her return to the table, as she interacts with each and every person she knows in the dining hall (which is a lot). 

So, after waiting 15 minutes for her return to the table, we sat down and discussed some questions:

What is your favorite Bryn Mawr memory?

The Friday of Hell Week, I got to do Bhangra with a multi-colored sweater, a hat, and a sign that said "free hugs." Apparently I got Annassed and a lot of people were just like, "Wait, what?" I asked for [the task] and I did it; and, it was really nice getting the support. I felt it. I didn’t care if I got Annased at all but the energy was great! I didn’t care if i was wearing the hat (I hated it, thanks Tiffany [Palak's heller]). 

What was your best summer experience?

The summer between my Sophomore and Junior years. I was interning at the State Department for the summer. I was exposed to a group of people who were supportive. As an intern, there is this perception that the interns get coffee, but I was valued for my skills. I was seen as an equal member of the team. One of them has been my mentor for a while. She is the one who directed me to work for a different department within the State Department; she is a woman of color so she understands that the majority of people are white. She understands that I am one of the few Indians in a 300/400-person department. I got to meet Justice Breyer and Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; I have pictures with Justice O'Connor. I don’t believe whats in them because I couldn’t ever think that I could walk over and just go meet someone I have read about and seen from afar. In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined that happening. But overall, I learned that I am valued and it shows that this is what I could be doing when I graduate college or in a few years. Having people who see me aspire to this level is priceless. I still text her [my mentor] sometimes. Not Sandra Day O'Connor. That would be crazy.

If you were another DLT position, which one would you choose to be?

ResCo. [not technically DLT, but that is okay] I feel like it would be really fun to be them. Ive known the heads for the past three years and I like helping them. It's pretty awesome [right now] to think that I don’t work for you guys but I get to help you guys out. also, I would get to have my name on the Taylor Bell.

What is your philosophy towards your work?

I don’t really have one. I just do it.

How would your best friend describe you?

*face contorts* I really don’t know. I have different friends who know different aspects of me. 

How would you describe yourself? 

Organized/anal, engaged, involved. I like being busy. 

Tell me about a time you did the right thing at work and no one saw you do it.

I don’t really think of it as doing the right thing, i think about it as just doing something for someone else. If someone did or didn’t notice, it doesn’t matter because it is what I wanted to do. its not something I think about it as something that I did. It's just natural.

Who is your adult best friend here?

Its like a 4-way tie: Gary McDonogh, my advisor; Rachel Heiser, my Peer Mentor advisor and boss; ViAnna Bernard [Residential Life]; and Mary Beth Horvath [Student Activities], because she made me an owl the other day. She has a picture of me posing with it and I didn't realize I looked like a 5 year old until she showed me the picture. I also get to see them in a lot of different capacities. I get to interact with them on more than one front. Its been really great in 2 ways—its been really nice that I can loosen up with them because they know me so well that I feel really comfortable around them. It's been really nice to know that they have been a factor in my growth at Bryn Mawr. 

Which animal do you relate the most to? 

Eagle and a Wolf. I don’t know why. But, my all time favorite animal is an octopus, from the time I worked at the National Zoo. It will always hold a place in my heart.

How long do you wait after finishing your first plate of food before getting a second plate of food?

I don't get a second. One plate only.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?

Matches for survival purposes. A shovel so I could dig for water. And a portkey, so I could transport myself off the island. It's practical yet idealistic. 

If you had to live in one place on campus for three days that was not a dorm, where would you live?

Guild, Guild 203 maybe. Or the courtyard. I would set up a little tent and be content, haha. People already think I live there, so its a no-brainer.

If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?

There’s a lot of animated characters that I would be like "oh you’re so cool.” I would want to be a character in up just so I could fly in the house. I don't know if I would want to be russel or carl, but I just want to fly in the house. I would just want to be able to fly in that house.

What’s your favorite website?


What is your favorite kind of cookie?

Chocolate chip. Hands down, any day.

What’s your favorite thing to order from Olive Garden?

Fettuccine Alfredo, its the worst thing for you but I love it.

Favorite TV Show?

Top Chef. Top Chef before it got spoiled. Top Chef evolved as a tradition with Jillian Moroney. We used to do "Top Chef Takeout" as a destresser. I think it would be really cool to go behind the scenes and take over the show to fit our dietary needs, in order to save the show from ruin. 

You know my celebrity crush so I must ask you the following question: Do you think Zac Efron is really nice in real life or does he just walk around with his abs out telling people to go fetch him stuff?

You said abs out so I’m going to go with the second one. I feel like he can be nice, and he probably is, but once your abs are out, thats it--You’re a player. 

Any final thoughts?

Bryn Mawr has been an experience, but I think that the experiences that I had shaped how I interact with people, I'd like to say in mostly good ways. It's important to acknowledge that our experiences are valid and important because whether or not we like it, they shape us. Sometimes for the best, sometimes for the worse, but in the end, I would like to think we leave changed for the better. #deepthoughts


You can see Palak roaming around campus going from one important meeting to the next, to the dining hall, to her office hours, and pretty much everything else. Her phycial identifying factor is definitely the neon chartreuse vest:

So say Hi to our Campus Celebrity and make a new friend! :D