When Ratul Pradhan ’25 stepped foot on campus in the fall of 2021 as an international student from Nepal and India, he quickly found a niche within this newfound community at Gettysburg College that combined all of his personal and professional passions.
Most first-year students spend the opening months on campus acclimating to a new learning environment and discovering opportunities to expand both academically and personally. But Pradhan wanted to take it all in, immersing himself in every opportunity he could find at Gettysburg across academic, professional, and social spectrums.
“One thing everybody kept telling me was that's the way your first year is supposed to be,” said Pradhan. “It's where you diversify and you do a lot of things.”
What Pradhan discovered at Gettysburg was the ability to combine his plethora of passions. The broad-based liberal arts and sciences curriculum opened the door for him to meld his interests in computer science and music as a double major, while the range of extracurricular opportunities led to him not only playing the role of Feste in the campus production of “Twelfth Night,” but also composing original music for the show.
Pradhan, who also held four different jobs in Communications and Marketing, the Center for Career Engagement, Information Technology, and Student Activities and Greek Life in his first year at Gettysburg, quickly gained the attention of campus leadership, who wanted to include his insight and perspectives on improving the social atmosphere on campus.
“While many of our students do this by the time they graduate, what makes him stand out is that he was doing this from day one,” said Director of Student Activities and Greek Life Jon Allen. “By the end of his first semester, he was widely known amongst the entire student body and was being recommended by the Student Senate president for committees.”
By his second semester, Pradhan and Jack Joiner ’25 had developed an idea to enliven the campus social scene with more opportunities to engage with fellow Gettysburgians musically. The two first-years approached Student Senate with a budget request of $10,000 to acquire equipment and materials to jumpstart their proposed program, Listeners & Performers.
To Pradhan’s surprise, campus leadership quickly approved their request, marking the second-largest allocation of funds for a student organization in recent history.
“That was one of those defining moments in my first year,” said Pradhan. “I don't think there's any other college or university where I could, as a first-year, go up to Senate, propose this idea, and get approval so quickly.”
Listeners & Performers’ goals include diversifying the social life in and around campus and adding to the musical offerings on campus outside of the Sunderman Conservatory of Music. It gives all students an opportunity to create, play, and listen to music together.
“At his core, Ratul believes in the power of music to build community, which is why the group is named Listeners & Performers,” said Allen. “He didn’t just want to bring trained musicians together; he wanted to create a space for all students, regardless if they could play an instrument or not, to come together to celebrate their common interest in music.”
The first performance for Listeners & Performers took place in early April at a non-profit organization in town called Waldo’s & Company, which shares a common goal with the campus group in showcasing creative aesthetes. The pairing proved equally beneficial in bringing together a creative community spanning campus and the town of Gettysburg, with more than 200 viewers watching a variety of performances on stage.
“That was one of those defining moments in my first year. I don't think there's any other college or university where I could, as a first-year, go up to Senate, propose this idea, and get approval so quickly.”
– Ratul Pradhan ’25
When Pradhan returns to campus in the fall, he plans to continue blending his academic disciplines and focus on activities that will help him achieve his personal and professional goals. He notes Listeners & Performers will be a “passion project” over the next three years, and he, Joiner, and Nate Kong ’25 want to expand the group’s presence beyond the boundaries of campus.
“In the long run, what we're thinking with Listeners & Performers is having a place where people can come together and find other artists and musicians and form communities to perform together,” said Pradhan. “The other part of Listeners & Performers that we really want to focus on is creating an underground music scene, like a lot of bigger universities have.”
Pradhan is also part of a growing international presence at Gettysburg, and nearly 100 students from around the globe are set to join the community as members of the Class of 2026. Despite his own long journey, Pradhan felt welcomed right away, and that set the stage for him to find his own defining moment amongst a supportive community.
“In the beginning, I was a bit lost coming from Nepal and India after COVID,” Pradhan said. “With music, computer science, and Listeners & Performers, I've been able to find my community—and I love that.”
By Corey Jewart
Photos by Eric Lippe ’23 and Dana Lou (Earthmark Photography)