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BEZAWADA: Inspiration can be drawn from obscurity

Opinions Column: Traipse the Fine Line

Right beside McCormick Residence Hall is the ongoing construction of the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering. It is an architectural marvel. The exterior is sleek steel and large, open glass windows. A long metallic hall juts out the side of the main entrance in an eccentric tilt and a large, circular room bulges from beneath. Activity on the construction site had begun just before I enrolled at Rutgers as a first-year and is slated to end this fall. Once the structure is completed, it will rival the Business School on Livingston campus.

I have seen the building daily since I first unpacked in McCormick on move-in day. I am woken at 7 a.m. by the melodious tune of hammer clanging against metal and the sirens of vehicles lugging construction material. While attending classes during my first day at Rutgers, I felt almost unlucky. At that time, the Richard Weeks Hall of Engineering was just a spindly, steely framework. There was not even a sidewalk in front. It certainly did not evoke the secure, solid sense of a finished building. The task would be monumental — its projected capacity is approximately 100,000 square feet and it looked like it was getting nowhere. But, as my family got ready to leave, my father guaranteed, “I’m telling you, it’ll be done in no time.”

I was skeptical, but I got the slightest inkling he might have been right that very same day. I had returned to Busch campus after several afternoon and evening classes on the College Avenue campus. To my astonishment, the workers were still diligently driving trucks around, pouring cement and erecting steel beams. An American flag fluttered in the wind at the very top of the structure, like a climber who had just reached the peak of Mount Everest, as if in testament to the hours of hard labor the workers spent on the project.

And every day since (except weekends), rain or shine, from early morning to mid-evening, workers toiled on without fail. In the rapidly changing environment of college, where people are always attending classes, clubs, jobs and internships, crisscrossing the Raritan River in a tight-knit interconnected network, the clanking of hammers and whirring of cranes make me feel at home. Now, I cannot believe that what I had seen at the start of first semester was real. Fleshed out, decked with lighting and looking closer and closer to the computer-generated image of the final product, I find myself increasingly awed and even more-so inspired.

The steady progress of the Hall of Engineering is a prime example of the time-tested merits of hard work, dedication and patience. Success does not come from nothing. No matter how long it takes, despite what anybody else says, regardless of your own mood, as long as you spend a set duration on your passions or studies daily, your effort is bound to bear fruit. After all, every expert was once a beginner, every towering tree began as a tiny seed buried deep in soil and every professor was once a student. Your unyielding allegiance to your proclaimed interests exhibits the epitome of self-respect and responsibility.

But of even greater importance is appreciation — to be able to look back and say, yes, now that I have reached here, I know I enjoyed every moment along the way.

The Hall of Engineering is named after Richard N. Weeks, an alumnus of Rutgers University. He has earned the Rutgers Medal of Excellence from the Rutgers School of Engineering and in 2017, was admitted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni.

Weeks is the chairman of Weeks Marine, a corporation specializing in maritime construction. Founded in 1919, it boasts almost a century of experience in the industry. It has acquired assets of major construction and marine companies and steadfastly maintains its reputation for progress.

Considering the company’s massive reach, it is difficult to imagine how it started. But it definitely started small. It originally possessed two wooden cranes capable of holding only two materials: coal and ballast. Come World War II, the company seized the newfound opportunity to modernize, replacing the wood with steel and expanding its crane count to seven. Ever since its unassuming beginning, the company steadily continued to work and grow, capturing whatever opportunity it could and making as much out of it as possible.

Now, I am sure that Weeks has looked back on his company’s history and said, "Yes, we have come a long way." It is not the destination that makes us happy but knowing we tried our best at every moment. In fact, once the finished building stands tall in all its shining metal glory, I will certainly miss the familiar jarring of construction work whenever I return from class. But that memory will remain permanent, and it will remind me to not worry about the end as long as I work hard the whole way there.

Sruti Bezawada is a Rutgers Business School first-year double majoring in marketing and communications and minoring in Japanese. Her column, “Traipse the Fine Line”, runs every alternate Wednesday.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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