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Co-salutatorians, from left, Jonathan Reed Lyon, Mridul Mehta and valedictorian Subhadeep Gupta
DEEP TOP OF THE HEAP

“Last year I found out I was number one,” says Subhadeep Gupta, “and I thought, `Hey, why not keep it.' But it wasn't like I was trying to be valedictorian ever since I got here.”

Gupta's four-year 4.11 average is tops among the Class of 1997 and earned the physics and mathematics major a place of honor during the 176th commencement exercises — he was the final senior to be awarded a diploma. The first shall be last.

Friendly and unassuming, Gupta has spent what he terms “a wonderful four years. Colgate gave me everything I wanted.” Not only was Gupta able to achieve remarkable success in physics and math, but he also had the opportunity to play the tablas and enjoy himself.

“I'm looking at AMO physics: atomic, molecular optical physics — studying atoms using lasers, in a nutshell — and math is essential. I wanted both backgrounds to be as strong as possible.”

When Gupta left Calcutta for Colgate he was confident he would find what he was looking for in the curriculum. He was less sure he would have occasion to play the tablas — Indian drums — but when instructor in music Stan Scott, who has an interest in non-Western music, arrived in Gupta's second year, there were plenty of opportunities to perform.

As for a social life, Gupta says, “Colgate isn't short of partying either, so I had a great time. Otherwise you get asphyxiated by your academics.”

All the elements fell into place, despite a beginning Gupta describes as “quite shocking. I wasn't quite with it.” Those initial “moments of tremendous discomfort” have become few and far between. Along the way, Gupta has found professors “open to all kinds of questions,” enjoyed the personal attention and has been exposed to music, philosophy and geography — areas seemingly removed from his majors.

“Don't compromise on your ideals,” says valedictorian Gupta. “Don't be afraid to take a jump.” Subhadeep Gupta's leap has been gigantic and he landed at the top of his class.