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Davis, California

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Midsummer’s Update on Aggie Adventures


UC Davis students’ summer activities, internships, classes, lifestyles

A college summer is too long and too short all at once; too long to not catch a whiff of boredom now and then, and too short to take another midterm during summer classes. Nevertheless, summer is halfway over and Aggies have found different things to fill up their plates. From meeting up with high-school friends to career-oriented internships, they are making their own adventures.

Manasi Arora, a third-year neurobiology, physiology and behavior major, chose to stay in Davis for Summer Session I.

“I’m taking NPB 101 [systemic physiology], and so far it’s been pretty interesting,” Arora said. “It’s about the physiology of body systems, so it’s really integrative and honestly different from all of the lower-division classes I’ve taken.”

Arora was actually inspired to take this particular class over summer because of the professors teaching it.

“Dr. Liets and Dr. Bautista are teaching it and I’ve [heard] great things about them, so I wanted to take it with them,” Arora said. “I’m also [taking an online] cultural anthropology class at Ohlone, so I’m doing that on the side.”

Although Arora found the summer heat and the rigor of her classes challenging, she has been able to cope with both. She also spends a lot of her time working on her project at Hunter Lab — a lab that focuses on meiosis research.

The rest of summer, Arora has planned to shadow a breast cancer surgeon at Kaiser, bringing her closer to understanding what it means to become a physician and all the little things they must do on a daily basis.

“I shadowed her last summer too,” Arora said. “Her profession is extremely noble and there’s a lot of exposure that I’m getting. It’s such a cool experience being able to [watch] a physician in her daily life —there’s so much to learn and so much to ask about.”

On the other hand, Sriya Maram, a third-year biotechnology major, took a leap from the small, quaint town of Davis and dove into San Francisco’s city life.

Maram found a job as a compliance intern at Stripe, a platform for running internet businesses.

“So compliance is making sure people use our products safely [and] follow regulations,” Maram said. “Its pretty cool […] it’s a mix of detective work but also a lot of operational flows, and I’m also doing a lot of research into different payment methods.”

Although she lives in the Bay Area, Maram decided to live in the city to fully experience life there.

“[It’s a] really cool experience,” Maram said. “It’s kind of a small girl, big city sort of thing. Its definitely different from commuting from home. Living in the city, the people, there’s always something to do on the weekends. There is so much diversity as well — a lot of different types of environments, food festivals and music.”

In addition to the colorful vibes of the city, Maram enjoyed the people aspect of her job and stepping into the adult world.

“Another thing I really liked was getting close to the other interns and seeing a lot of young people around the city,” Maram said. “I think the biggest part was living here by myself; it was a good introduction to the adult world without being too scary.”

Savita Sastry, a second-year biological sciences major, is pursuing both her passions toward scientific research and dance at the same time this summer.

Sastry is currently interning at the Molecular Medicine Research Institute (MMRI)  The summer of her junior year in high school, she participated as a high school student, and this year she has returned as an undergrad junior mentor to guide past versions of herself.

“I wanted to come back this summer and apply as a junior mentor, and I was chosen for that,” Sastry said. “So I got to experience this program as a student and now as a junior mentor.

The experience is just so different. On one hand, when I was a student, a lot of things were taken care of for me and I could just ask questions and have them answered by my mentors. But as a junior mentor, you’re exposed to so many different people and you have to interact in a more professional environment. You have to now be the one who does research on questions and be ready when anybody has a question.”

Sastry, however, found something to learn in the challenge and ambiguity of her new position.

“In the beginning it was a little rough and definitely really challenging,” Sastry said. “But I think it’s really cool that I get the opportunity to not only work in a lab, but be in a position where I’m uncomfortable and I’m not always gonna have the answers. Through those experiences I kind of adjust the way I’m teaching students or adjust the way I’m approaching problems in order to help them design their experiment and help them think like scientists.”

Sastry has also returned to practicing Kuchipudi this summer, a classical Indian dance form she has trained in for many years. She has been rehearsing with a group of other Kuchipudi dancers from different dance schools, each bringing their own twist and flavors to the art form. Sastry described this grouping of different styles as a platform for learning where the different dancers can teach and learn from one another.

“I’m getting the chance to learn and teach at the same time,” Sastry said. “[I’m] learning from others the way they do things and they’re probably doing the same for me. It’s like these two different learning environments (the lab and dance), at the same time. I think that’s the biggest takeaway I got from both things.”


Written by: Sahiti Vemula — features@theaggie.org


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