Graduation Time

I can’t believe I’m graduating! 

Honestly, it really hasn’t hit me yet; I’ve taken graduation pictures and have posted them, but still, I don’t feel that I am graduating. Maybe it’s because right now, I am so preoccupied with finals. 

I think it is ironic that this fall, the Biomedical Sciences (BIMS) graduation falls on Friday, Dec. 13. What makes this day even more spooky is that the graduation is happening at night! I wonder whose great idea it was to do that. 

The only downside about graduating early is that I will have to play the waiting game. Currently, I am applying to multiple veterinary schools, and I do not yet know whether I even qualify for an interview. 

For those not familiar with the veterinary school application process, I like to say there is equivalent to three parts to the process. The first part is actually applying, where you’re filling out your coursework and experiences. If the school likes your application, they can invite you to an interview; these interviews don’t happen until December to February, depending on the veterinary school. 

After the interview, the school will let you know whether you have been accepted, which usually happens between January and March, again, depending on the school. 

Waiting so long is anxiety-inducing, but during these upcoming months, I have made plans to keep me occupied. 

During December to March, I hope to work part-time at the same animal clinic that I have been working at for the past few years. 

From March to April, I hope to travel to Japan and South Korea! Since I am waiting on veterinary school interviews to be scheduled, I haven’t yet purchased tickets for either of these countries; however, I do know that I want to travel during those months so if not Japan and South Korea, I may choose to go to Thailand and Vietnam instead.

For May to August, I have two different plans, depending on the outcome of a summer internship I’ve applied for. If I get the summer internship in Sacramento, I will head to California for the summer, which is great and ideal because my whole family lives in Sacramento. If I do not receive the internship, I will continue working at my clinic. 

All of this, of course, is second to getting accepted to a veterinary school, so wish me luck!

A Different Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving break being right around the corner, a lot of us students are jumping with excitement.

Normally during Thanksgiving break, I will make the most of my time off from school to visit with family and catch up and studying before finals week. However, this year my Thanksgiving will be a little different—I will be working a 10-hour shift at a hospital!

During my college career, I have been fortunate enough to take on two jobs. My first job is as an ambassador for the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences. However, my second job is as a medical scribe in the emergency department at a local hospital.

As a medical scribe, I get to shadow doctors while typing their charts during their patient visits. As a pre-med student, I was always told to shadow physicians as much as possible to really get a good understanding of their day-to-day schedules.

With scribing, I have been able to consistently shadow while learning a copious amount of medical information. Scribing in the emergency department has also taught me how to be work efficiently because I’m often running around with the doctor who see multiple patients within a short window of time.

I have been scribing for about two years and I learn something new during every shift. This position has given me an immersive healthcare experience and I’m so thankful that I was able to pursue this while being a full-time student.

As a scribe in the emergency department, we often have to work holidays, including Thanksgiving. But even though I will be working during this Thanksgiving instead of being back home, I’m excited to see what I’ll be learning at the hospital during another long, but fun-filled shift!

A Second Home?

Other than Thanksgiving being just around the corner, there’s a plethora of things I am looking forward to in the coming months.

As part of my undergraduate research, one of the principal investigators (the faculty member in charge of the research) I’ve been working with has asked me to help on a new grant we just received from the DoD (Department of Defense) dealing with Gulf War Illness.

The second research lab I’m working with also finally seems to be ready to begin our experimental trials after an entire semester of careful planning how to model hypoplastic left heart syndrome (a rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped).

Yet, for once, I just seem to want to go home so I can meet the newest member of my family whom I’ve been receiving videos about for the past two months—our new dachshund!

But so much has been going on this semester in my labs and nothing seems to be showing any signs of slowing down. It’s funny to think that I consider my labs to be almost my second home now—I definitely spent more time there than my apartment.

As I’ve gotten to know our awesome graduate students and fellow undergraduate workers, I’ve truly been blessed to become a part of such great teams.

From helping a lab-mate setup at Wolf Pen Park for his concert to having serious life advice talks with our PhD students, this semester has really changed my perspective on just how much a lab can do for you, personally, rather than just put hours on your resume.

Attending My First Wedding

It was a Tuesday morning and I had just walked out of the entomology building after taking my fifth exam this month. With the wedding being only four days away, it was time to switch gears from “test mode” to “wedding prep mode.”

Saturday was the wedding of my close friend Andi, whom I met through an organization at Texas A&M, so I knew I had to make my attendance a priority. But because this was my first time attending a wedding, I had no idea what to expect or how to get ready for it. The one thing I did know was that I needed to find a dress.

I quickly paced back to my car and drove straight to the mall. As I was shopping for a cocktail dress, I began to realize that I may not find what I am looking for, since many stores had already switched to autumn attire.

Luckily, my final visit to Macy’s was my saving grace—I found a cute red dress with spaghetti straps…with a discount, too!

Friday morning came and I ran through the day’s agenda in my head: go to work, attend class, pack for Dallas, and head out as soon as I can. I left for work at 6 a.m., made it to class at 10 a.m., and got home after working out at 3 p.m.

A quick shower later, I began to pack and managed to head out around 4 p.m., and after about four hours of jamming mostly to Billie Eilish, I made it back home just in time to have dinner with my parents.

It was now Saturday, the day of the wedding. While having breakfast, I typed out my schedule for the week so that I was ready to tackle two more exams as soon as school started.

Soon after breakfast, I curled my hair, did my makeup, and slipped into my red dress just in time to head out at noon. After what took forever to find parking, I got to a massive church and sat patiently for the next chain of events.

Few minutes later, “Here Comes the Bride” started to play and I saw my friend with her almost-husband walk down the aisle. As breathtaking as it was, the ceremony ended quicker than I thought.

Four hours later, the reception started and everyone gathered at a hotel venue in McKinney. There were chandeliers in every corner of the room, tables draped in white silky tablecloth, and name cards placed above our gold dinner plates.

After the three-course dinner, the bride and groom had their dance and the bridesmaids and groomsmen shared their speeches about the newlyweds (cue all the tears).

Then came all the dancing. Lights were dimmed and “Cha-Cha Slide” blared through the speakers. Everyone grabbed their friends and significant others and proceeded to “slide to the left” in unison. What a great time!

As someone who had only heard of what happens at weddings, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the experience as a whole was intimate, yet so much fun all at the same time. I am so grateful to be have been invited to this wedding and wish the newlyweds a happy life together.

Congratulations you two!

Finding My Voice at Texas A&M

Before committing to a school last year, I wanted to ensure that wherever I ended up was the best place to foster my goal of becoming a veterinarian.

Texas A&M’s biomedical sciences (BIMS) program was the obvious choice for many reasons. Aside from my career goals, my Indian culture is an important part of my life, and I was concerned about finding a community at Texas A&M that was similar to my own.

I am incredibly lucky to say I did.

Swaram A Cappella is Texas A&M’s nationally ranking South Asian fusion a cappella team.

I was trained in Carnatic music, a type of Indian classical singing, for the majority of my life, and I was also very involved in my high school’s a cappella group.

Swaram immediately piqued my interests because it seemed liked a place where I could keep up with my Carnatic music training and my love for a cappella.

Now in my second year on Swaram A Cappella, I am now one of the musical directors of the team.

Since last year, we placed third at nationals in Washington, D.C., and we just finished recording a new album set to be released next semester! Needless to say, I have been very busy.

This year has been more stressful than last because I have an officer position and school has been much harder; however, Swaram rehearsals are a place where I can wind down and do what I love most—sing.

Our first competition this season is on Nov. 16 at UC Berkeley, so we have been working very hard to perfect all of our music and choreography before then.

I am particularly proud of our new members because this semester has been especially difficult for them, having to learn a new set and become acclimated to the team.

I am grateful for all that Swaram has given me—long-lasting friendships, an outlet to sing, and a way to relieve stress.

Even though we are a South Asian fusion team, we have members from different cultural backgrounds. The music unites us, no matter our background, which is a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Adventures at Aggieland Safari

Because most of my animal experience is centered around small animals, I am constantly seeking opportunities to diversify my knowledge of veterinary medicine to prepare me for veterinary school and the application process.

Over the summer, I finally had the chance to enter the world of exotic animals!

With the opening of Aggieland Safari, an interactive, drive-through zoo, I jumped at the opportunity to work with a plethora of different species. As a veterinary intern, I assist the veterinarian in surgeries, treatments, and observation of the zoo animals.

Six months later, I have worked with an assortment of animals, including, oryx, zebras, reptiles, macaws, silver foxes, camels, and so much more!

A typical day at the park consists primarily of medicating animals. Additionally, I will walk around exhibits and examine animals to make sure everyone looks OK. Finally, I will help zookeepers feed animals and clean enclosures.

Through this education, I have also become more comfortable with these animals. Although I always practice caution and awareness around all animals, I am no longer as apprehensive of animals I interact frequently with, such as binturongs and African grey parrots.

Speaking of binturongs, my favorite animal to feed is a binturong named Poppy. She received her name because a chemical in the urine of binturongs smells like buttery popcorn!

Binturongs look like a combination of a small bear and cat. However, they are actually civets and are originally from Southeast Asia.

Although they are carnivores, Poppy loves her strawberries and watermelon! During hotter days, we will freeze a variety of fruit in water and give her these popsicle-like creations. It provides a source of entertainment for her and cools her down!

In fact, because she is so motivated by food, medicating her is a lot easier! All I have to do is treat her with a strawberry and she happily takes her medicine.

As my journey through veterinary medicine continues, I am so excited to continue to learn with amazing animals, like Poppy.

Later this winter, I am travelling to Belize to intern at the Wildlife Institute and continue my studies of exotic animals. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store!

Adventures in Thailand

As a senior biomedical sciences (BIMS) major, I am currently in the middle of “test week.” Anatomy, biochemistry II, and animal nutrition have proven to be very difficult classes and the tests all fell on the same week.

Although my undergraduate career is sometimes overwhelming, I have also made memories that I will never forget.

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to participate in a four-week study abroad program in Thailand. I am in awe when I think back on the experiences I had.

During the pre-veterinary trip, I got to work with elephants, horses, cats, and dogs. I learned about the heartbreaking abuse elephants in Thailand are experiencing and joined in the protection efforts.

I also served at an elephant sanctuary that houses more than 40 elephants that have been rescued from abusive conditions. These elephants are allowed to live their lives freely at the sanctuary and simply be elephants.

It was an eye-opening and inspiring experience that reminded me of the importance of advocating for animals that can’t advocate for themselves.

Apart from the animal experience, I also loved learning about Thai culture, interacting with local people, and eating the delicious food. I got to tour extravagant temples, take a cooking class, hike, zip line, scuba dive, and experience so many other once in a life time moments.

Throughout my time in Thailand, I developed new passions and adopted a more global perspective. It was a very unique trip and one that I will never forget. I am so thankful for the memories I made on this wonderful adventure.

Stepping back into reality, I spent the rest of the summer taking classes, working, and completing my veterinary school application. But I was able to draw on my experience abroad when going through the motions of everyday life.

Now a few tests, football games, and an Aggie ring later, I am almost halfway through the semester. I am hoping that throughout the rest of my senior year, I will stay motivated but also continue making lasting memories.

Home Sweet Home

As a junior biomedical sciences (BIMS) student, I have had a good amount of time really get used to my college life and what it really means to balance school, work, a social life, and most importantly, sleep!

The homesickness that results from living away from home, however, never really goes away—especially when home is a 10-hour drive, in sweet, old El Paso.

Homesickness is something everyone, at one point or another, experiences. Calling and video-chatting home to ask for mom’s recipes and dad’s help with “that strange sound the car’s been making” seems to help even the most stressed students cope, but it just simply isn’t the same as having a home-cooked meal and a warm hug to come home to.

As a very family-oriented individual, attending a school so far away from my parents, a school as great as Texas A&M, seemed nearly impossible! Fast forward to three years later, though, and here I am, so close to graduating!

I have officially finished my first round of exams, all in the same week. Having to choose between studying for biochemistry, immunology, or “Great Diseases of the World” was not an easy task, might I add.

After a long couple of weeks, almost halfway through the semester (and after saving up), I decided to reward myself with a trip home!

Driving 10 hours, back and forth, is almost impossible to do in just one weekend, so flying is the best option.

I have been looking forward to this little getaway from busy College Station for so long, and I cannot believe it is finally here! I am overwhelmed with joy by just thinking about seeing my friends and family!

As CVM Ambassadors, we are asked all kinds of questions. One of the most common, and my personal favorite, is, “What was the hardest thing about coming to college?” While, of course, study habits and college workloads do take a while to develop and strengthen, I always answer with a variant of the same thing: independence is something that takes a bit of time to really get used to!

When we are younger, we are so eager to start the rest of our lives, to move out, to be ourselves, and to be on our own! We fail to realize how much of home some of us might miss, how comforting it is to ride in the back of the car with your siblings, how hard it is to get your favorite dish to taste just how Mom made it, or how reassuring a smile or hug from your family was after a long day.

Life comes at us very quickly and soon we are real adults with real responsibilities! So, as every romantic comedy has mentioned before, enjoy every little moment!

I know I sure will this weekend!

Work Hard but Not “Too” Hard

In the last five months, I had taken the MCAT (the standardized examination for prospective medical students), received my Aggie Ring, ended and began semesters, lived in Spain, and applied to medical school.

After the summer I had, I did not think I was ready to get back to the grind. With only 10 weeks to cram as many experiences into my study aboard/internship in Barcelona, Spain, I chose to procrastinate my responsibilities back home.

A biomedical sciences (BIMS) student must balance academic, extracurricular, social, and health duties, while remaining focused on the future. Now imagine mastering the balance and then in comes senior year, throwing on top of everything else the responsibility of medical school applications.

The problem is, as much as we want to give everything 100 percent of our effort, our humanity limits are the capability to manage only a few arduous tasks. Though restricted, it is essential to remember that non-academic pursuits are equally as critical to our future as an education.

So this summer, when I traded a little more stress during these past few weeks for the 10-weeks of pure bliss in Europe, it honestly felt like I robbed the bank. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity demanded I completely immerse myself in the experience.

Now, a quarter of the way through my second to last semester at Texas A&M, I can finally breathe. But pre-health professional students sign up for a lot more than the average undergraduate, and success can cost every ounce of energy available. With the next round of tests around the corner, there is not much time to catch my breath; though my attention is required elsewhere, I will not forget about myself.

One of the most valuable lessons I have learned while here at Texas A&M is recognizing when I am pushing myself to the brink of insanity. So, when the to-do list seems infinite and life becomes a little overwhelming, I encourage everyone try to take a break, do something fun, and remember, work hard but not too hard.

Balancing Act

It has been so exciting getting into the groove of things this semester as a sophomore biomedical sciences (BIMS) major.

I am currently taking organic chemistry, “Great Diseases of the World,” American history, women’s health, and introduction to animal science. The biggest challenge so far has been organic chemistry, as I’m sure almost every BIMS sophomore can tell you.

Learning to study for organic chemistry is a task in itself, and then you have to do the actual studying! I have learned that scheduling to study overtime before testing makes you so much less stressed once you get to the test, and that has been a lifesaver for me so far.

This has helped me to slowly start learning to balance my time between work, school, and my social life.

My favorite part of this new year has been moving into my beautiful, one-bedroom apartment with my two little buddies, Charley and Reggie. Charley has been with me since he was just a little puppy, in August 2012, and Reggie has been with us for about a month.

I have struggled a bit with worrying whether I’ve spent enough time with them or given them enough love, but I think we are getting on just fine.

In another area of my life, working as a BIMS Ambassador has been such an awesome experience. It is so great to feel like I can help those around me and show them the little world we live in here in the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

It is also great that I have the ability to work on my studies when I’m not helping others, which has been such a blessing. Having time where you are simply able to sit down and focus is so great.

Through the CVM Ambassador program, I also gained a great new friend. Sahana and I not only are in the ambassador program together but we also have a few of the same classes! It is so awesome that I have been able to find new people I love through this program.

Most fun of all is that I recently learned that a photoshoot I modeled for when I went to Australia back in May 2019 will be included in a book coming out in March 2020! It really makes me think about the amazing opportunities we can have if we just reach out.

The book is called “This Is Me,” by Georgie Abay and Julie Adams. I am so excited to see my photo in the book.

It isn’t my favorite photo of myself but it shows me that what I may perceive as OK can be so beautiful to those around me and that we are often too hard on ourselves as humans—we all should remember that we are all so gorgeous in our own ways.