Amazing Students

Mugdha Joshi

Mugdha Joshi, a senior majoring in biology and anthropology, has been able to thrive as a scholar, leader and musician at UGA, with plenty of activities, travel and honors to show for it. Next stop: Harvard Medical School.

Hometown:

Alpharetta, Ga.

High School:

Alpharetta High School

Degree objective:

B.S. in biology and A.B. in anthropology

Expected graduation:

May 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

The past four years at UGA have been such a whirlwind of opportunities and excitement that it’s incredibly difficult to know where to start. At UGA I’ve been able to thrive as a scholar, a leader and a musician.

Academics have always been a priority for me. Thanks to some fabulous teachers, many hours spent studying, and support from my family and friends, I am thrilled to be graduating as a First Honor Graduate this spring. One of the biggest things that UGA has taught me though is that the point of education extends far further than the classroom. The point is to take what we learn in our classes and apply it to make new knowledge and solve problems in the world. I first got my feet wet with research through the Roosevelt Institute by writing a policy analysis paper about controlling abuse of study drugs on college campuses with one of my friends that we presented at the CURO Symposium my freshman year.  My sophomore year I joined a research lab headed by Shelley Hooks working to understand the role the protein RGS10 plays in controlling neuroinflammation and chronic pain. With the help of the CURO Summer Fellowship and a CURO Research Assistantship, I was able to write my Honors thesis, present at the 2015 CURO Symposium, and travel to Washington, D.C., to present at Posters on the Hill, a multi-disciplinary undergraduate research conference. In D.C. I also had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with congressional representatives about the importance of undergraduate research.

Leadership and service have also been extremely memorable parts of my experience at UGA. My freshman year I was on the founding board of Vibha at UGA, an educational service organization that worked to make learning fun at local schools through academic bowl afternoon programs. Sophomore year, my friend and I co-founded RefUGA, a refugee advocacy organization that serves refugees in the Athens and Atlanta communities. Taking RefUGA from two people with an idea to an organization poised to make an impact on the Athens community working with the most incredible team of people has been one of my most truly rewarding and meaningful experiences.

My time at UGA let me continue pursuing one of my greatest loves — choral music. I have been in five ensembles during my time here including everything from the African American Choral Ensemble to the a cappella group With Someone Else’s Money to the Hodgson Singers, UGA’s premier auditioned ensemble. I got to go on tour with the Hodgson Singers in Austria and the Czech Republic my sophomore year where we sang in some of the world’s most beautiful cathedrals and brought home first prize at the Ave Verum International Choir Competition for the Dawgs!

In addition to traveling for choir, I’ve also been able to spend two summers abroad. The summer after my freshman year I spent eight weeks in Ghana volunteering with a school and local health care providers in a rural village through Operation Crossroads Africa. The summer after my junior year, with the support of the Honors International Scholars Program, I spent six weeks at a medical school in rural India studying how how private, government and charity efforts work together to provide health care to rural underserved and how social development projects that integrate economic, educational and medical approaches are reducing health disparities in India.

I have been fortunate to receive several scholarships to support my undergraduate career including the Zell Miller Scholarship, the Henry King Stanford Scholarship, the Comcast Leaders and Achievers Scholarship, the Crane Leadership Scholarship and the Tucker Dorsey Memorial Scholarship. I have also met phenomenal people through involvement in Palladia Women’s Honor Society, Blue Key Honor Society and Sphinx Honor Society.

Through it all, the Honors Program staff, the fabulous faculty, my friends and the student community at UGA have pushed me to take advantage of every opportunity that I possibly could and enjoy my time here at UGA to the fullest.

Family Ties to UGA:

I am the first in my family to come to the University of Georgia. I’ve slowly been converting everyone in my family to Georgia fans by giving everyone UGA spirit wear for Christmas!

I chose to attend UGA because…

… I was so impressed by everything I read and heard about UGA students. In addition to learning a lot in the classroom, they were out in the world doing incredible things like studying abroad, doing research, serving their communities and making impacts in meaningful ways. I wanted to be like them! In addition to what students were doing, the opportunities available through the Honors Program and scholarship support made UGA dominate every pro-con list I made. Everything I based my decision on has held true and I am convinced on a daily basis that I made the right decision.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

… go to lectures and events hosted by student organizations, eat ice cream at the Creamery, hang out at the MLC and run into people I know, walk around on South Campus when the weather is nice, go to choir rehearsal, go to football games, and go to class — I have had the privilege of learning from some of the most interesting professors! Back in the day when I was on meal plan I also loved catching up with friends over pizza at Snelling. Now I settle for catching up with friends over Barberitos!

When I have free time, I like…

… to try out all the different restaurants that Athens has to offer with my friends. The food scene in Athens is amazing. I came into college with a goal of eating at as many as I could before I graduate, and I’ve made a lot of progress! I’ll also settle for hanging out with my friends however, whether that means studying together, going to Ramsey, catching up over Tuesday night ice cream, going to performances at the PAC, watching movies or playing board games.

The craziest thing I've done is…

… spend eight weeks in a village in Ghana that was a bumpy 30-minute cab ride via dirt road from the nearest town and almost invisible on Google Maps! I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, and this was the best possible way to do it. I got to learn about a completely different way of life and a whole new culture while meeting incredible people and having amazing new experiences. My favorite memories include tasting authentic Ghanaian stew cooked over a fire, walking through the gorgeous countryside to fetch water from the river, learning to carry pots of dirt on my head, getting up close and personal with a waterfall, and looking up at the sky during a power outage and seeing more stars than I’ve ever seen in my life.

My favorite place to study is…

… realistically my apartment because I do most of my studying in close proximity to my bed and kitchen! But when I really have to get work done, I love studying on the first floor of the science library. The atmosphere is just the right balance of casual and focused to get everything I need to do done.

My favorite professor is…

… very hard to choose. I am immensely grateful for the relationship I have with my research mentor, Shelley Hooks. Working in her lab was probably the most challenging part of my college career. She inspired my curiosity for science, was patient with me through all of my mistakes, and is someone who I strongly look up to. Like so many of the professors I’ve met at UGA, she is very invested in her students’ success and her door was always open.

College would also not have been the same without Daniel Bara, the director of choral activities in the school of music and the director of the UGA Hodgson Singers. I will never be able to thank him enough for letting me be a part of the Hodgson Singers, the most enriching musical experience I’ve ever had and for somehow making every rehearsal a pursuit of excellence but also fun!

This profile would not be complete without mentioning the Honors Program staff including Jessica Hunt, Elizabeth Sears and David Williams. Having their support has made all the difference in my college career.

Along the way I’ve had so many incredible professors, including Paula Lemons, Derrick Lemons, Christina Joseph, Susan Tanner, Marcus Fechheimer, Julie Stanton and Rodney Mauricio whose passion for their subjects and investment in their students have made learning both challenging and rewarding. I never expected college professors to be so approachable or to care so much about what their undergraduate students have to say.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

I’d go back in time and meet Beethoven (hopefully with someone that could help us communicate!). I’d want to ask him about his 5th Symphony. We listened to it in an Intro to Music class I took and heard about how it represents his struggle with his growing deafness. I think it would be really interesting to know his take on that. He is one of the greatest composers of all time and the struggle with losing what was most important to him sounds unimaginable. I’d want to know what was going on in his head, how he translated that into his music — and if I could, find out what was causing his deafness. I’ve always wondered if it would be curable today.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… find a way to make sure that every medical advancement that we’ve made and will make from here on out is made accessible and affordable to every person on the planet regardless of where they live or how much money they earn. There are so many people who struggle with simple things like diarrhea, malaria and infant mortality which are fixable if only barriers in resources and infrastructure could be overcome.

I might also learn how to play the guitar — or become really good at piano. Both are dreams I’ve never quite had enough coordination for.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… spend extended periods of time in countries all over the world. Iceland is definitely on the list. I want to see the Northern Lights. Also China, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, France, Italy, England — and many more! I would want to do all the touristy stuff and eat all the delicious foods, but I’d also want to spend significant time getting to know communities and individuals, and immersing myself in cultures.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend Harvard Medical School! The plan right now is to pursue a career where I can blend compassionate, individual-centered patient care with figuring out how our health care system can better serve an increasingly diversifying patient population. I’m really looking forward to exploring what this might look like when I start medical school in the fall!

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

… the awards ceremony where the Hodgson Singers won grand prize at the Ave Verum International Choir Competition. The announcer was so sneaky with the buildup, slowly dropping statements that made it more likely to be us, and when we found out, everyone was screaming and hugging each other and celebrating. And of course we topped it off by “calling the dawgs” in the middle of a square in the small town of Baden, Austria. It’s always great to be a Georgia Bulldog.

Published Sunday,