First-year student Tejaswini Kannan hasn’t let the COVID pandemic slow her down. Already a leader on campus and involved with on-campus research, Tejaswini has her sights on medical school in the future. Learn more about Tejaswini’s University of Iowa experience below.
Tejaswini posing in front of tulips in Pella, Iowa
How did you choose to attend the University of Iowa?
When I was first thinking about college, I looked for programs that would help me build my career path. That is why I thought the University of Iowa would be a perfect fit. The very helpful faculty and the resources I wanted were one of the reasons why the University of Iowa was my top choice. I found that there were a lot of options when it came to classes which means endless opportunities to explore. It was a great choice for the pre-med track that I am currently pursuing because of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Carver College of Medicine. I also found that there were a lot of opportunities for research positions and undergrads could also get involved. I also loved how big the campus was but the college community was pretty tightly knit.
As a first-year student, you are already very involved on campus. Can you tell us a little bit about ISAB and your role as communication director in the organization?
I am the communication director of the International Student Advisory Board (ISAB). ISAB advocates for the needs and requirements of international students on campus. We collaborate with the undergraduate student government and the graduate student government to come up with solutions for issues faced by international students. We try to improve their experience and create a more inclusive campus environment. As the communication director, I manage ISAB’s social media accounts and try to communicate information related to projects and other programs. Next semester, I will be working on cultivating relationships between students and student groups.
Are you involved in other student organizations?
I am a general board member in other organizations like the UI Medicus, Indian Student Alliance, UI Bio organization, and Campus Activities Board. I was a liaison for Gathe Raho, a South Asian a’cappella competition, which was hosted virtually by the Indian Student Alliance this spring.
Tejaswini exploring the covered bridges of Madison County in Winterset, Iowa
How has your involvement in the UI Honors Program impacted your educational experience over the past year?
The UI Honors Program has given me a lot of opportunities. I got to do Honors Primetime, two honors classes in the fall semester, and one in the spring semester. I am also currently a learning assistant (LA), which helps me get experience in teaching. I also work at an internal medicine lab in the Pappajohn Biomedical Discovery Building which also fills my Honors Experiential Learning credits. Being in Honors has made me try different things that I wouldn't have considered if I was not in the UI Honors Program.
What are some of your favorite things about the University of Iowa campus?
I love the diversity and the huge number of opportunities at the University of Iowa. I love the big campus and the downtown area right next to campus. Some of my favorite study spots include the Main Library, the second floor on the IMU, the Voxman Music Building, and also studying outside in the Pentacrest. I’ve genuinely liked all of the professors that I had this year, but Robert Peck (Rhetoric) and Cynthia Farthing (Calculus for Biological Sciences) are two of my favorites.
How have you been doing with the COVID pandemic? Did you employ any coping strategies?
I am sure that the COVID pandemic has taken away the original freshman experience from me, but I wouldn’t say that the online experience has been too bad. There were times when I wished that freshman year would have been the way it was pre-pandemic, but I tried to cope with this by starting new habits. I started baking during quarantine. I also try to talk to my parents, friends, and relatives who are back in India. I try to stay more organized by using a planner and planning my time out for different activities. I am not happy about the COVID pandemic but I cannot say that it has created a great impact on my academics.
Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experience at the University of Iowa?
My experience as a freshman international student at the University of Iowa has been very interesting. When I sum up the whole year in my mind, I can see how much I have grown as a person and how much I have learned over the past year. The different experiences and the different environments have helped me learn things like how to adapt to situations, think on my feet, and also how to take measures to grow myself professionally.
What are your future academic and/or career goals?
As I mentioned before, I major in biology on the pre-med track and minor in human physiology, so I am interested in getting into medical school. For the coming years, I am looking forward to taking up a social science minor, contributing more to ISAB, working on research projects, working as a supplemental instructor (a peer-leader initiative to help other students review course material), finding volunteering and shadowing opportunities, and getting a job at the hospital one day.