Amazing Students

Karishma Sriram

Karishma Sriram, a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology, says she is “beyond blessed” when describing her time at UGA, which has included travel around the world as a Foundation Fellow.

Hometown:

Athens, Ga.

High School:

Athens Academy

Degree objective:

B.S. in biochemistry and molecular biology

Expected graduation:

Spring 2016

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I think the only way I can describe my time at UGA is with the following: beyond blessed. The opportunities provided to me by UGA have far surpassed anything that I would have expected, and I am so very thankful for that.

Entering college as a Foundation Fellow, I was immediately immersed in an enriching and creative environment. Through the Fellowship, I have been able to participate in intriguing book discussions, dinner seminars and conversations that helped me shape my understanding of the world around me. Further, the Fellowship afforded me the ability to travel during my career. Through its aid, I’ve taken a class under a Fellow of All Souls College at Oxford University, traveled to Harvard College to present my stem cell research, ventured to Bolivia to observe the health care conditions in the impoverished La Paz, and escaped to Morocco and Bali for cultural and religious immersion. Beyond the extensive travel and enrichment opportunities, the Fellowship has provided me with a community of peers and advisers that have guided and aided me in my growth as a student, friend and person.

While the Foundation Fellowship is a family unlike any other, I found that my time at UGA has been worthwhile because I’ve been lucky to form a variety of these families around campus. I’ve had the privilege of being a part of the Arch Society, which serves as ambassadors for the university. Between holding up the Georgia banner on the field during football games and giving tours to prospective students and visitors, the Arch Society has given me a chance to give back to a community and university that I have come to love. Dawg Camp has also graciously included me in their family. Through Dawg Camp, I have become a part of an incredible and diverse group of individuals who will one day change the world. UGA MathCounts and UGA Campus Scouts have given me an opportunity to join like-minded college students with a desire to teach and mentor students in the Athens community in an effort to give back to the city that I’ve called home for all of my life.

A key component to my time at UGA is also my involvement in Steve Stice’s lab. Under the mentorship of Drs. Stice and Robin Webb (and Erin Jordan!), I have been able to explore regeneration capabilities of stem cells in bone reproduction and, more recently, in neurodegenerative disorders. The Stice lab has not only provided me with an outlet to understand research processes but has also provided me with yet another supportive family that has been there for me in all of my pursuits.

It’s hard to summarize the past three years of my career at UGA. It’s been so much more and meant so much more to me than just a compilation of “highlights, achievements and awards.” The most important moments have been the Snelling dinners during which there was more laughing than eating, the hours spent lounging on Herty Field surrounded by friends, the impromptu movie adventures, the occasional “Friends” mini-marathon on a lazy “Netflix Appreciation” Saturday, the conversations with my parents over Sunday night dinners at my favorite Mexican restaurant. So, while some may attribute these “successes” to me, these awards, achievements or highlights would not have come about without the unconditional love of my family, the constant support of my incredible friends, and the miracles of God. They have been true blessings in my life and have taught me to live each day as if it’s my last. I am forever indebted to them.

Family Ties to UGA:

Born and brought up in Athens, I have been part of the University of Georgia for longer than the three years I have studied at the university. The pillars of the Arch, and the institution itself, have come to represent more than wisdom, justice and moderation. My family ties to UGA go back to 1987 when my father joined UGA as a faculty member. In pre-school, I boldly ventured in the Ramsey Center—with one hand tightly gripping my mother’s hand and the other towing my bathing suit—as we made our way to the first of many years worth of swimming lessons. In middle school, my brother and I spent hours drawing on my father’s blackboard after school, while he attended departmental seminars. Later on, my brother went on to join the University of Georgia as an undergraduate student and graduated in 2011. In high school, I explored the Coverdell building, as well as stem cells, ventured to the vet school in search of loose pets, met up with my friends to run at the intramural fields. For all these years, without my realizing it, the University of Georgia had been a meaningful part of my life, before I even officially set foot onto its campus.

I chose to attend UGA because…

Having grown up in Athens, I was even more indecisive than other seniors in deciding where to attend college. On the one hand, I wasn’t terribly fond of the idea of staying here for four more years, just a stone’s throw away from my own house. On the other hand, I grew to realize just how little I appreciated the University of Georgia. Through many visitation sessions and the Foundation Fellowship interview weekend, I recognized the vast academic opportunities, thriving student life and beautiful campus the University of Georgia provided. I distinctly recall one visitation event during which I met a current UGA student during a poetry reading by MacArthur Fellow A.E. Stallings at Ciné. Within a matter of minutes, we were laughing and joking around with each other. In that moment, I thought, “This is where I should be!” It was the ultimate combination of camaraderie, academic enrichment and cultural immersion. I was sold on UGA.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

I wouldn’t be a true Bulldawg without saying that one of my favorite things is definitely attending our football games! Spending my Saturdays sitting in the heat with 92,000-plus of my closest friends are among the best memories I have here. Besides that, wandering around North Campus, chatting with friends at Tate and enjoying cinnamon ice cream at Snelling are some of my favorite things.

When I have free time, I like…

… to sing and run—at the same time! I jest; I kid. That would be quite a challenge. I do love to sing. There are awesome soundproof rooms in the music school, which allow me to take some time and sing some of my favorite songs (though I also sing during normal conversation). Not a terribly good runner, I do love taking time to get lost—I wish this was just figurative—in the trails of the intramural fields. It’s especially a blast if a couple of pups join me as well!

The craziest thing I've done is…

… mountain bike down a road termed the “Death Road” in La Paz, Bolivia, last summer. To give a sense of what the experience was like, after a brief warm-up session, my tour guide asked me, “Have you ever ridden a bike?” Needless to say, I made it! There’s something about being so high up that you can only see clouds surrounding you that makes everything else seem trivial. Bolivia provided more opportunities for some crazy adventures like paragliding and scaling a 17-floor building dressed as a piece of bacon. But, those stories are for another day.

My favorite place to study is…

… anywhere my friends are! Be it in the “laser tag” room of the library or at the tables outside of Starbucks, I’m always more focused around my friends who demand I concentrate if I get distracted or provide a good source of support for those stressful studying nights.

My favorite professor is…

With the fantastic courses I’ve had at UGA, it’s hard to narrow down my favorite professors to just one. I’ll try to narrow it down to just a few! David Williams, Jessica Hunt and Emily Myers have been my “rocks” so to speak for the past three years. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them. Steve Stice has been an incredible research mentor to me, providing me with unconditional support and opportunities I couldn’t have imagined coming into his lab as a rising second-year. Jason Locklin was one of the best professors I’ve had while at UGA. He managed to make the difficult and challenging and often dreaded “Organic Chemistry II” even more challenging and difficult, but he also managed to make it enjoyable. He was genuinely invested in his students and made sure that they realized that organic chemistry is more like a puzzle. It takes training, but soon anyone can begin to understand its intricacies. Bryan McCullick also served as one of my research mentors for my Roosevelt policy research on physical education. With unwavering support and guidance, Dr. McCullick taught me how to critically analyze policies. Without a doubt, Erin Winter has been one of my favorite professors. As a junior taking “Introduction to Sociology,” I didn’t expect the class to be challenging, but it was. It opened my eyes to how our society actually functions and how many don’t even consider its impact on their lives. Dr. Winter helped me look at the world in a new light and inspired me to utilize that new view and my resources to make a difference. And that is exactly what I’m going to do. Just one more to mention—my first and favorite professors have to be my dad, T.N. Sriram, and mom, Vidya Nahar. Always there to provide good advice, the occasional math/statistics tutoring session and the gently sarcastic remarks on my attire, my dad and mom have been the ultimate teachers.

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

… Mindy Kaling. After reading her autobiography, “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me,” and faithfully watching her show, “The Mindy Project,” I have grown to love her as a woman who has created her own path in not only the comedy business and in Hollywood, but in her life. Her sheer lack of fear and acceptance of her identity is inspiring.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… show everyone how valuable they are. Too many people think of themselves as insignificant, but everyone is here for a reason and has a purpose, and it’s important to know that.

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

… travel around the world. I don’t just mean visiting the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House, but I want to experience everything from the muddy rainforests of Costa Rica to the busy streets of Manila. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my trips abroad it’s that our world has beauty even in the places you wouldn’t expect. They’re not even treasures for which you should search, but rather treasures you can encounter.

After graduation, I plan to…

… attend medical school and eventually pursue a career as a physician—possibly in pediatrics—a researcher and a professor, but I’m keeping my options open. I’m excited about the prospect of living in a new place and meeting new people no matter where I end up.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

Move-in day freshman year! I’ll never forget my nerves, my excitement and meeting strangers who ended up being my best and closest friends.

Published Sunday,