The Catalyze podcast: SEVEN Talk, by Kartik Tyagi ’23: “Haste and Hustle”

Podcast | January 9, 2024
Kartik Tyagi ’23 delivering his SEVEN Talk at the 2022 Alumni Forum in Chapel Hill. (Photo by Leon Godwin)

Today’s episode is a recording of a SEVEN Talk from the 2022 Alumni Forum. This talk, given by Kartik Tyagi ’23, is entitled, “Haste and Hustle.” Kartik was the senior class president at UNC–Chapel Hill.

Listen to the episode.

You can watch all of the SEVEN Talks on our YouTube channel.

More about Kartik

Born and raised in Cary, North Carolina, Kartik Tyagi ’23 received his BSPH in Health Policy and Management at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.

As a senior Morehead-Cain Scholar, Kartik served as International President at HOSA-Future Health Professionals, an international career and technical student organization serving over 250,000 middle school, secondary, and postsecondary/collegiate members and 2.7 million alumni.

Kartik’s passion for service and advocacy—through uplifting and empowering the voices of others – is what has propelled both his work and his drive, be it through engagements that have enabled him to embody his leadership journey or build his professional passions in the public health policy, healthcare reform, and public service sectors.

Kartik is thankful to have had the opportunity to develop these passions in supporting work as a Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Intern within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as a member of the American Academy of Family Physicians’ America Needs More Family DoctorsCollective Impact Initiative, and as an Alumni Policy Ambassador for NAF: Be Future Ready, a national organization aiming to transform the outlook of secondary education. Kartik also served his peers as the senior class president at UNC–Chapel Hill and as a member of the board of directors of the General Alumni Association at Carolina.

In an increasingly polarizing world, Kartik aims to utilize the unifying capability of both health and leadership as a guiding light into the 21st century, optimistically and intentionally, to secure a more accessible, equitable, and inclusive field of healthcare.

How to listen

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Catalyze is hosted and produced by Sarah O’Carroll for the Morehead-Cain Foundation, home of the first merit scholarship program in the United States and located at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. You can let us know what you thought of the episode by finding us on Twitter or Instagram at @moreheadcain or you can email us at

Episode Transcription

I’m in my senior year here at Carolina, 203 days away from that spring afternoon, at which point I’ll be considered a proud Tar Heel alumnus. But who’s counting, right? What a time, honestly, what a time the past few years have been to be a Tar Heel. From a semester and a half in person to years of unparalleled uncertainty, to what was one of my favorite Carolina memories, being in New Orleans this past April, where we literally ended a career on the court. It’s been an interesting couple of years to be a Tar Heel, through all the passion, pivots, friendships, mentorships, loud laughs, and heartfelt emotions.

I’ve found that it’s in my nature to always look at what’s next, plan for the future, think about tomorrow, and all that that entails. A few months ago, a close friend of mine asked me a question I had never been asked before. It forced me to reflect quite deeply. “What makes you sad?,” he asked. And so, as a generally positive person, I didn’t know how to respond. And so I thought.

I thought of being woken up early one morning in the summer of 2018. “It’s time,” my dad told me. I got up still half asleep, made sure I wasn’t missing anything that I needed to pack or take with me on such short notice. After days and weeks of limbo, the question was whether my father, with his busy work schedule, and I, who at the time was completing a summer job, would take the flight over to India and meet up with my mother and younger brother, who were already there that morning. The decision was made urgently, and so we quickly left our home for the airport. After a long flight, as we were landing in New Delhi, I remember, as the plane touched down on the tarmac, as I was jolted awake, my father shared with me a text he had just received. He shared with me in Hindi.: “Kartik, tumhaare daada ab nahin rahe, your grandfather is no more.” Sweat, tears, ash, smoke, and fire is what I remember from a few weeks after that. I remember feeling hot and overwhelmed, being surrounded by flame and by ash. I remember performing my grandfather’s sacred last rites and cremation.

At this point, I turned back to my friend, who had been patiently waiting, and I answered her question what makes me sad? It makes me sad that over the past year or two I realized I was starting to forget the way my grandfather’s voice sounded, that I was beginning to forget the way his stories would mesmerize, the way his jokes would draw belly laughs. Yes, from him, too. I was beginning to forget the way that when he spoke, people listened. Ever since I was young, as my family would take trips to India to visit our extended family, to reconnect with our roots, I would reflect how easy it was to take for granted this ability to reconnect, the ability to live through shared experience, the ability to cherish the importance and value of honoring who I am and where I come from. I also took for granted that big old box of Indian sweets. My grandfather’s life, his passions and experience, challenged me to always appreciate and to love in a world that always seems to seek more to lift each other up, not push each other down. It made me think of all the moments in which I had been thinking and prioritizing a tomorrow instead of a today.

It also made me think beyond the convention of what we think of when we think of the word resilience. Challenging how I face and respond to disruption in a world that seems full of it. Because in a world that prioritizes haste and hustle looking forward at what’s big, what’s bold, and what’s next. How do we appreciate genuinely, how do we appreciate what we have today? How do we appreciate where we are right now and all that we’ve been through to get here? How do we cope with and respond to disruption in our lives? My grandfather would tell us, “You have to beat your own drum. You have to beat your own drum because you can’t expect anyone else to do that for you.”

I share with you all the question I was asked, “What makes you sad?,” not to make you ask the question of yourselves, but rather to think of those things, of those people, of those places and of those memories that keep you going, that make it worth it. Among many for me were those that included the time I shared with my grandfather. Because I realized in order for me to truly be able to stand strong, beat my own drum, and focus on what matters, I’ve realized I have to honor where I come from as well as those that sacrificed for me to be here. I have to realize disruption and change might be the only constants in my life. And I have to seek joy in what it is that keeps me moving, asking myself, “What is it that fills up my cup?”

Let’s not forget that it’s a true privilege for us to be here together again because not everyone can be. So let’s slow down. Let’s bring meaning to who we are and what we strive to be. Let’s be grateful for all that we have today, and above all else, even when it’s hard, even when it’s difficult, even when we think we cannot, let’s choose to live in the moment. Let’s choose to prosper, to thrive, to make the most of disruption faced, to think every step of the way what we’re thankful for now in the present, in a world that urges us to move swiftly, with haste and with hustle.

Folks, I’ve learned to appreciate the joy of the moment. And today is one of those moments. I’m proud to be here with each and every one of you. I’m proud to be here because you and I, we are together again. And as the adage goes: together, we are stronger.

Thank you.