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Mehak Batra (left) and Priya Krishna (right) on Collis Common Ground stage in a Q&A session

One of my goals for this term was to take advantage of the free speaker events that are open to campus. So when I heard that Priya Krishna D'13, a food writer at The New York Times and former Bon Appetit video producer, would be the keynote speaker for Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM), I knew I had to be there. I started watching Priya on the Bon Appetit YouTube channel during the pandemic, and loved that she proudly showcased Indian cuisine and culture. Even after Priya left the channel, I continued to follow her work in The New York Times

Enjoying the catered dinner with samosas, biryani, and banh mi
Helping myself to a buffet of my favorite Asian food staples

I made sure to arrive at Collis Common Ground early so I could grab a good seat. As I waited for other students to trickle in, I admired the coordination and planning by this year's AAPIHM Committee. They had beautifully decorated the common space with tablecloths, colorful posters, and lights. They also organized a buffet with my favorite Asian food, from samosas, biryani, eggrolls, yogurt dipping sauce, and banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches. It wasn't long before the event kicked off with opening remarks from the Office of Pluralism and Leadership team (OPAL), who welcomed Priya on to the stage. 

What struck me about Priya from the start was her relatability. She spoke about studying in Collis, hanging out in The D's office, and taking government classes with Professor William Wohlforth. She confided that she came to Dartmouth uncertain about her future, but ended up taking French classes and falling in love with food. Her passion led her to start a food column in the Mirror, work with Dartmouth Dining Services to improve the student dining experience, and intern at Murphy's, a local restaurant in town, as their first female line chef. Priya ended her opening remarks by talking about the struggle that Asian Americans feel to be "successful," and how she tried to find her own success even as she started her first job in New York City in a food advertising role that paid $12 an hour. With luck, she ended up pitching a cookbook about Indian food (called Indian-Ish) while the Bon Appetit food channel took off, propelling her career to new heights. 

Priya giving opening remarks on Collis stage
Priya D'13 giving opening remarks on Collis stage

The event later transitioned into a Q&A session moderated by Mehak Batra '24. Priya talked about some of her favorite memories (completing the Lou's Challenge), advice for current students (don't worry so much about grades), and favorite class (French 20 by Prof. Faith Beasley). In addition, she touched on her upcoming project (a cooking book for children) and some of the challenges about being a woman of color in the industry. Personally, I really enjoy it when Dartmouth alums come back to speak to current students. They show that everyone at Dartmouth has access to same the educational resources, which help level the playing field and make it possible for anyone to succeed. Halfway through AAPIHM, I have been consistently impressed by how the community is able to pull off such incredible programming. I hope that you're able to get involved in the fall if you're passionate about Asian American representation!  

Diana (left) and Emily (right) taking a selfie with Priya (middle) in Collis
I was so nervous taking this selfie with Priya!

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