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Koumudi Thirunagaru started thinking about becoming a doctor at a young age. She volunteered at Stanford Children’s Hospital near her home in San Ramon, California, and she took AP biology at Homestead High School and found the subject constantly stimulating.

Caldwell has been her home away from home. She began college at Caldwell as a biology major. “I became involved in everything that had to do with the medical field my first year including being an officer for the Health Professions Club.” The idea of pursuing a career in medicine “turned from a fantasized” dream to a realistic goal.” During the summer between her freshman and sophomore years, she went on a medical mission to Nicaragua, an eye-opening experience that spurred her to pursue a minor in Spanish.

Thirunagaru will be taking a step closer to her goal of becoming a doctor when she begins her studies at George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., in the fall. The faculty at Caldwell have helped her in the process. “I received a lot of guidance from Dr. William Velhagen. The professors are easily approachable. They are not just teachers but also mentors—inside and outside the classroom.”

She received her bachelor’s in biology with minors in chemistry and Spanish at graduation on May 21. She excelled during her undergraduate years, receiving departmental honors in the Department of Natural and Physical Sciences and being involved in a number of activities including holding leadership positions in the Health Professions Club, playing tennis all four years, tutoring in the Academic Success Center and working as a scribe at a hospital in Newark. She appreciated being given opportunities for community service ranging from planning the annual Halloween-for-hunger drive to attending Midnight Runs for the homeless in New York City and volunteering at the annual Caldwell Day.

Thirunagaru finished her coursework last December and taught grammar school children math and English at an after-school center and privately tutored in art. Her artwork appeared in this year’s edition of Calyx, a Caldwell student journal of literature and art. Caldwell has been her home away from home, especially since her family lives on the West Coast. The university’s cohesiveness makes it special for her. “It’s a circle, a family.” Thirunagaru advises incoming students to get involved quickly. “Students make the school. Take advantage of what you have, and never lose sight of your dreams, regardless of the daily battles.”