BackgroundInterview Date:February 2019
Gender Identity: Female
Race/Ethnicity: South Asian/Indian
Sexual Orientation: Straight
Graduation Year: 2021
High School Experience: Private boarding school in Southern India that followed the IB program with about 130 students in the graduating class. There was a strong culture of going to college in the United States.
First Generation College Student: No
Major: Biology on the pre-health track
Extracurricular Activities: I [have a leadership position] in the club called Women’s Ready, which helps spread menstrual hygiene awareness in the greater Atlanta area. I also [have a leadership position] in Project READ, where we teach reading, writing, and math to children who have Down Syndrome. I’m also in the Student Health Alliance, which helps pre-med or pre-health students have an idea of what they are getting into with the healthcare field. I’m part of club sports as well.
Did any of your extracurricular activities have a particularly big impact on your experience? In what ways?
I knew I was pre-health even before coming to Emory. The discussions and events I’ve had through the Student Alliance club has given me a clear picture of what I’d want my pre-health journey to look like. I’m between pharmacy and public health, so I at least know where my interests stand.
Can you describe the weekly coursework for Biology?
So far, I’ve taken three biology classes here. I had credits to get out of general Biology, but I still had to take the lab. The first biology class is quite general, but Emory is specifically centered toward the genetics portion of the subject. The majority of the class we spent doing gene crosses. For the labs, we had ongoing experiments that are basically projects over the course of the semester. You keep feeding and calculating the same dish. For Biology, we have two midterms, [and then a final exam covering the third unit, which includes a cumulative portion at the end.]
Is there anything you feel the Biology department does especially well or poorly?
Most of the classes have weekly quizzes either online or in class, which I think is a good way to keep up with the material so you aren’t lagging behind three or four weeks. It does get stressful to have a quiz every week, especially when you have other stuff going on. The labs are a little unorganized, and not structured well. Even halfway through the semester you still don’t know what the point of the experiment it and where it’s headed. It’s very Muddy. I couldn’t see any special relations to what we were learning in our lectures.
How would you describe the learning environment? Is it particularly competitive or collaborative?
It’s a bit of both. It’s extremely competitive, especially when you’re in the pre-health track. This is because the majority of Emory students are either pre-health, pre-med, or decide to go to the business school. It is competitive in that you’re all taking the same classes and everyone’s doing the same thing and targeting the same opportunities because, especially with medical school, there are certain boxes that need to be checked to move forward. There’s the pressure of trying to make my experience stand out or being able to show a medical school that I’m the person they want. It can also be collaborative because there are group mentoring sessions and other projects and activities we do in groups which makes it easier because you can split up the work.
How accessible have your professors been?
One of the best things about Emory is the faculty. We have such great professors. I haven’t met a single professor who wouldn’t want to meet with you, or who wouldn’t want to spend more time with you about the material until you’re comfortable. They are a great resource if you want to talk to them about anything else.
Why did you pick Biology? Are you happy with your choice?
I came in as a Chemistry major, and have always gone back and forth between chemistry and biology. The reason for that was I just finished an internship in a chemistry-related field. Chemistry at Emory is not easy. It’s the hardest subject to do, especially with the new curriculum. I realized it’s not something I want to specialize in.
How was transitioning academically as an international student? Are there systems in place that help you transition?
Another great thing about Emory is that the campus is extremely diverse. I’m an international student and was also an orientation leader last fall. I know the entire system, and we have a separate international student orientation two days before all the other students move in, and it’s very well structured. I didn’t feel out of place when I came in last year, and I haven’t met anyone who’s felt unsafe or insecure about stepping into the campus because they were an international student. All of us get a mentor who is our go-to person before declaring our major when we don’t have an advisor. I love the whole environment on campus when it comes to intermingling between international and domestic students. [The Class of 2022 is 37% White, 22% Asian, 11% Black, 8% Latino, and 17% are International.]
On and Around Campus
How was transitioning from your hometown in India to Atlanta, GA?
It’s kind of suburban and small. We never consider ourselves just in Druid Hills, it’s always the greater Atlanta area. My hometown in India is really small. It’s always been a small place where everyone knows everyone. Atlanta is not that, it’s huge. I love the city, and how Emory has its own campus further from the city in a quiet suburb, so it doesn’t feel like we’re in the middle of the city with all the chaos. It feels like we have our own closed campus with our own community, but is only a 10-minute Lyft to get to Midtown. The music and food scenes are great.
Can you describe the level of safety you’ve experienced on and around campus?
I have always felt perfectly safe on campus. I’ve walked back from the library at 1 AM and have never felt the need to call safe rides. People are more cautious during fraternity rush and during party times, but I think it’s a very safe campus.
What are the pros and cons of being located in the Druid Hills neighborhood of Atlanta, GA?
1) Since it’s not super into the city, we have our own closed campus away from the hustle and bustle.
2) You’re not far from Midtown, the Pawn City Market, or the mall. It’s maybe a 10-minute ride from campus to those places.
What kind of nightlife or weekend activities do you participate in at Emory?
There is Greek life, so every Thursday and Friday the sororities and fraternities have their parties. I’m not a fraternity party kind of person. If there’s a big Halloween themed one I do go with a group of friends, but I personally don’t like it. My Friday’s are usually either staying in and watching a movie, or going out for dinner and usually going to Midtown, or a cool place in the city with great food. Atlanta has a lot of 18+ clubs, and they have nights such as Latino night. Usually, an organization on campus will team up with them, so they can promote their organization and have fun.
What’s an alternative to going to a party or a bar that you like for a night out?
Every Thursday evening the University Center Board sends everyone an email listing the activities on campus that you can do for the weekend. If there’s a theatre production, it’ll list that. Acapella has concerts, there are painting workshops, and we have a museum on campus.
How happy were you with the weekend options at Emory? Is there anything you would change?
I would say about a 6.5 or 7 [out of 10]. I don’t go out and party every weekend, so for me, it becomes repetitive because I don’t want to go to every single choir performance, or dance production every week. If you’re into frat parties it’s awesome, but if you’re someone like me who doesn’t like going there, your options are limited unless you go into the city.
How did you meet your closest friends?
My roommate is my closest friend. The University Center Board had a fun event called Glow in the Dark Olympics in the first-year quad. People were chilling and just having fun there, which is where I met my closest friends. There have been some through [my club sport], and through Student Theatre. I have my friends from India, and that group is very strong.
How would you describe the overall social scene at Emory?
It’s not amazing. You do have something to do every weekend, and it’s not pathetic. Emory has a lot of events if you love going to seminars, attending workshops, or talks from different scholars. One good thing about Emory is we have a school-sponsored shuttle system that runs to happening places in the city. We’d get free transportation for something going on, like a food truck festival. They realized since we’re not in the middle of the city, maybe some of these things would be out of reach for some students.
To what extent do people of different races and sexual orientations mix socially?
It’s a really warm environment. There’s an office, club, and community for each identity, and they host so many events. There are nights where you can go have food and talk to people. I love the diversity when it comes to different places, even in the United States. Emory is huge on LGBTQ support.
To what extent do international students mix with domestic students?
I don’t think it’s that big of an issue. No one section is hostile toward the other, it’s all very chill. Of course, I still see the international kids sticking with each other a little more than the domestic students, but I feel that is natural. I have a lot of domestic friends, and my roommate is from Georgia. It depends how outgoing you are, opposed to how the communities feel about each other.
How strong is the International and South Asian community on campus?
The international community is huge, and there are a lot of South Asians on campus. We all have different clubs and organizations. There’s an Indian Student Association, then a Hindu Student Association, a Bengali Student Association, and a Muslim Student Association. Sometimes they collaborate and hold events together. [Emory has over 500 student organizations.]
Were there parts of Emory, or American college as a whole, that surprised you?
I knew we didn’t have a sports culture, so that didn’t come as a surprise.
Has the alumni network helped you find internships or jobs?
Not yet because I’m still a sophomore. Emory does have a Student Alumni Board, and by tradition, once you finish two semesters you’re automatically inducted into this board. You have access to the alumni portal which is great. It’s really strong from what I’ve heard. There is an event called Dinner with Twelve Strangers, where you go to an alumni’s house with people you don’t know.
What have you used the career office for? How helpful have they been?
I always go to the career office. It’s a great resource. Most of the time I go to get my resume checked, or if I need to apply for an internship or a position on campus and need somebody to guide me through it.
The pre-health Advising Office is where I go a lot. They tell me what classes to take when, so you’re not overloaded with stuff. [They also tell you] what activities to do in the summer, and how to keep up with everything related to pre-health.
Have you learned any computer programs or computer languages that have been or will be especially helpful professionally?
I took a class called Quantitative Statistics methods, which is a requirement for Biology majors. It was helpful because we coded in R and used a lot of statistics.
Advice for Prospective Freshmen
What is something you wish you knew about Emory before you entered as a freshman?
That is was going to be this competitive academically, and even otherwise. Because I’m on the pre-health track, everyone is doing the same things, so there’s competition [to stand out]. It’s hard to find that one thing that will set your application apart from others.
What is something a prospective international student may want to know that has not been mentioned?
The international student community is amazing. If somebody were coming in I’d just say that you’re going to be fine. You’ll find people just like you, and even from the same country. The domestic students are welcoming as well, and you won’t feel out of place.
What is something a prospective student may miss on a visit that’s worth checking out?
There’s a lot of construction on campus. I can imagine if I toured, I’d be really turned off because the campus looks pretty bad right now. This is going to go away because they are making a new student center, dining halls, and ballrooms, so they are doing it to benefit the student community.
Reasons to attend Emory:
1) If you’re somebody interested in pre-health or are super into research, then Emory is the place for you.
2) The business school is amazing.
3) Atlanta is a great city, and we have our own small campus within it.
Reasons to not attend Emory:
1) If you’re looking for a sports culture, then don’t come here.