With campuses closed to visits from prospective college students, The Indian SCENE is bringing the college experience to you.
For this month’s issue, The Indian SCENE spoke with Rohan Mehta of Plano, Texas, an up-and-coming biomedical engineering major at the University of Texas at Austin, presently pursuing a pre-health certificate. Mehta is set to graduate in the year 2023.
Founded in the year 1883, University of Texas at Austin is an acclaimed public research and flagship institution of the University of Texas system. Popularly referenced as UT or UT Austin, the institution boasts of a notable alumni record, including—former first lady, Laura Bush—founder and CEO of Dell computer company, Michael Dell—the CEO of Southwest Airlines, Gary C. Kelly, etc. The student enrollment is about 50,000 undergraduate and graduate students, the average cost of attendance is estimated to be close to $17,000 after financial aid, while its acceptance rate is stated to be at 39%.
This conversation has been lightly edited and condensed for length and clarity.
The Indian SCENE: When did you begin your college search? What aspects of a college were important to you?
Rohan Mehta: I began searching in the summer after junior year. I wanted to go to a school with a respected biomedical engineering program in combination with a lively culture and campus life.
IS: Tell us about the application process. Did you apply for an early decision or early action anywhere? How many schools did you apply to?
RM: I applied to a lot of schools, because I wasn’t really sure where I wanted to go. I didn’t opt for ED anywhere, but I applied early to many schools that allowed non-restrictive early application, like UT, Michigan, and others.
IS: How did you eventually decide to attend your college? Name a few things you enjoy about the setting of your school.
RM: I ended up choosing UT because it seemed like the obvious choice. It had a solid engineering program, an awesome student culture, it was close to home, many of my closest friends would be there with me, and it was very affordable with the scholarship offer I had received.
IS: What’s some advice you wish you got when you were going through the college application process?
RM: It’s pretty important to apply early; admission rates tend to change during the application season, so, at many schools you would have a better chance of getting in if you apply earlier, when more spots are still available. I noticed this was especially true at UT, where many brilliant friends who had waited too long to apply weren’t accepted.
IS: Tell us about your major/planned field of study and what you hope to do with it.
RM: I plan to continue with my education after college by attending medical school. I hope that certain skills from my engineering education (experience in data collection/processing/analysis, programming, knowledge of imaging technologies, and a quantitative understanding of anatomy) will aid me in my practice, especially as technology advances and the medical field becomes increasing automated and data driven.
IS: Add anything else you feel would be important (diversity on campus, traditions, etc.)
RM: UT is a very diverse campus, with many Indian students. For Indian students, there are many opportunities to participate in campus life in unique ways–we have nationally ranked Indian dance teams, cultural and religious organizations, service clubs, and Indian fraternities and sororities.
IS: You are involved in building a community center in India. Tell us more about it.
RM: I’m part of a UT program called Projects with Underserved Communities (PUC). I’m on Team India, and we’re building a community center for an impoverished village called Siripudi in Andhra Pradesh. This village has many members of scheduled castes and tribes, so they’ve faced historical discrimination and limited educational and work opportunities. Additionally, this area is prone to dangerous annual flooding that forces the village to evacuate by foot. Our team of engineering and social working students have designed a building from scratch that will serve as emergency shelter during these floods. It will also be used as a center for evening classes, community meetings, doctor’s visits, and potentially a bathroom facility. Next summer we will be traveling to India to oversee the construction of the project. In preparation, we’ve been hiring contractors, budgeting, developing a work schedule, and determining travel logistics. The last piece of the puzzle is fundraising; we’re only a few thousand dollars short of our $30,000 fundraising goal and we need your support!
IS: How can someone support your cause?
RM: Donate at hornraiser.utexas.edu/pucindia2021 and share with your family and friends! Donations are tax-deductible and may be matched by your employer.
…favorite family activity: Watching movies and playing poker!
…favorite type of food: Indian food
…favorite artist: Kanye West
…favorite vacation spot: Anywhere amidst the mountains; I love hiking and scenery so I especially enjoy Colorado, New Mexico, Northern California and Iceland!