Honors Former Student Spotlight – Rika Mallepally
Honors Former Student Rika Mallepally ’12 shares insights on how her education experience helped prepare her for her accomplishments in the medical field.
Honors Former Student Rika Mallepally ’12 from Plano, TX, is a third-year Internal Medicine Resident at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She graduated with a B.S. in economics from Texas A&M and a Master’s of International Affairs from the Bush School before earning her M.D. from Emory and Master’s of Public Health from Harvard. Mallepally was highly involved in the University Honors Program, both as a Sophomore Advisor and as a University Scholar, so we asked her to share her insights on how this experience helped prepare her for these accomplishments.
How did you end up at Texas A&M?
As a teenager I had exposure to A&M through the Science Fairs that they hosted for high school students across the state. I was immediately impressed by the commitment to science and engineering. Later on, I ended up choosing A&M for two reasons: (1) Tuition. I was fortunate enough to get a full ride. (2) Honors Department. The Honors Department was the biggest draw towards A&M. For a large university, having a home base to navigate the resources in front of you is key. I recognized this level of guidance immediately in the honors department. My academic interests were varied and I knew that the Honors Department would be able to help me actualize my goals.
What are your favorite memories of your time at Texas A&M?
My time at the Bush School. I used my junior and senior years in college to concurrently pursue a Masters in International Affairs, with an emphasis on International Economics and Development. I loved grad school classes; class sizes were small and my classmates had varied life experiences (especially compared to an undergrad like me!). The Bush School showed me how to present myself as a professional, and how to think of career goals in the short and long terms. We also had President H.W. Bush and Mrs. Bush visit campus a few times a year, always a welcome surprise!
In what aspects of the Honors Program did you participate?
I lived in Honors Housing all 4 years and loved the community aspect of living with classmates and friends who were very similar – at the same time very different- from me. As a freshman I was a proud Lechnerd and stayed on as a Sophomore Adviser (2009-2010), an opportunity that allowed me to engage with freshmen and help them with the transition to college. People came from across the country as well as from small, rural towns close to College Station. But everyone shared a passion for academics; I have never met such an academically diverse group of people! I was also fortunate to be a University Scholar from 2009-2012. It was an incredible opportunity to network with professors, researchers, and classmates who were doing amazing things. I also enjoyed the small group seminars we had every semester, which allowed me to pursue academic interests that had nothing to do with my career goals (I still remember a fascinating linguistics course we took during the first year). I am still in touch with a few fellow University Scholars and it has been a lot of fun to see the paths we have all taken over the last 10 years.
How did your experience shape your career path?
My time at A&M taught me to be proactive! It is a very large university and has an endless number of resources. I think it is important to be lost in the day to day of classes and remember that there are research opportunities, scholarships, trips, and extracurricular activities just waiting to be tapped into. I was always encouraged by professors and upperclassmen to cold email people who I wanted to meet with. It led to amazing opportunities (like spending a spring break in Qatar, or teaching a honors class during my last year). My time at A&M being proactive has led to a lifelong habit of not being afraid to reach out to people to ask about research, jobs, or just to talk about their professional interests.
What advice would you give to current students?
(1) Update your resume every semester. (2) Identify 3 people who you would consider mentors. Professors, researchers, whoever. Meet with them every semester to discuss short and long term goals. (3) Explore things outside of what you want as a career. College is the perfect (and maybe only) time to try new classes for no reason. Pre-med? Take liberal arts classes.
Originally posted here.