Leon Frajmund, Nepali Vishwanath, Maggie Vitale, and Diego Berrios pose prior to commencement

Image caption: Leon Frajmund, Nepali Vishwanath, Maggie Vitale, and Diego Berrios pose prior to commencement

Image credit: Will Kirk / Johns Hopkins University

Commencement 2019

For close friends, a chance to reflect and reminisce

Seniors Leon Frajmund, Leon Frajmund, Maggie Vitale, and Diego Berrios say the distance that will soon separate them won't change the bonds they've formed or the memories they've made in their four years at Hopkins

For four years, they've shared classes, rooms, parties, assignments, and laughs. But after walking across the stage and receiving their diplomas, these four friends will be splitting up and scattering across the globe.

Though their lives will soon take them to different destinations, Maggie Vitale, Diego Berrios, Leon Frajmund, and Nehali Vishwanath say the distance won't change the bonds they've formed or the memories they've made.

"These four years have been super formative for us. And I think the biggest thing is that we might be leaving, but it's still going to be with us. Our time here is going to impact us forever."
Nehali Vishwanath
Johns Hopkins Class of 2019

Like many groups of friends, theirs was built piecemeal, growing as new people entered its gravitational pull. Vitale—a public health major—and Frajmund—a neuroscience major—were the first of the group to meet, bonding as early applicants to Hopkins.

"All of the early decision kids friended each other on Facebook," Vitale said. "We were chatting and it just so happened that he's from New York and I'm from New Jersey, so when we did the early decision meetup, we both attended the New York one and met in person there."

Once the school year began, Frajmund became friends with Diego Berrios, an earth science major who lived upstairs from him at Roland Hall. Soon after, the two began dating.

Meanwhile, Vitale befriended Vishwanath, a fellow public health major who was taking many of the same classes. They ended up spending a lot of time together, both in and out of class, becoming lab partners and close friends.

Vitale said her favorite memory of Vishwanath came during a bio lab field trip to the Maryland Zoo.

"We had worksheets that we were doing while we were there, and we were leaning on the side of an enclosure that's on this big open area," Vitale said.

"It was some kind of anteater exhibit, or something like that," Vishwanath added.

"We're writing, and all of a sudden a bug lands on her folder and she just screams—"

"I freak out."

"And then she just throws the folder into the enclosure."

"Right in the heart of everything."

"I fell on the ground laughing, and she's worried the animals are going to eat it and die. So the zookeeper had to get this giant claw thing to reach in and fetch it out. That's my favorite thing you've ever done."

"I'm going to be known as the zoo girl."

Video credit: Dave Schmelick, Patrick Ridgely, Jim Trone, and Len Turner

For Berrios and Frajmund, it wasn't experiences in the classroom that forged their friendship, but those outside of it. Berrios said pretty much every moment in Roland Hall was memorable, from the big events to quiet nights.

Frajmund said one of the most memorable and impactful moments of their relationship was something that in a lot of cases would be the end of it: a breakup.

"We had been dating for like three years, and he broke up with me right after we renewed the lease for the apartment," Frajmund said. "So we were stuck in a one-bedroom apartment for a year. And we still slept there, and we made it work, and we're still friends and chill with each other."

After graduation, the four will go their separate ways, all at least a plane flight away from one another. Vishwanath is returning to her home state of Texas, Berrios and Frajmund are both moving to Europe—to France and the Netherlands, respectively—while Vitale plans on remaining in Baltimore.

Despite the distance, they all say they have plans to keep in touch, both digitally and in person. Vitale said she's already planning her first trip to the Netherlands to see Frajmund and added that her door is open to the group if they ever plan on returning to Hopkins as alumni.

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"Any time these guys come back to see Hopkins they can—"

Vishwanath interrupts. "We're gonna crash with her."

After taking a moment to themselves before the ceremony, maybe the final moment the four will have together before splitting up for the Commencement procession, Vishwanath reflected on the four-year path that led them to this point.

"It feels unreal a little bit. It still hasn't hit, even though we're all here standing in our robes," she said. "These four years have been super formative for us. And I think the biggest thing is that we might be leaving, but it's still going to be with us. Our time here is going to impact us forever."