Sitting just outside the Campus Center on a sunny, breezy Tuesday afternoon, Siri Uppuluri reflects on her upcoming graduation from NJIT.
“I feel like I’ve reached a milestone, so while it’s bittersweet to be leaving campus, I also feel like I’ve been prepared by my professors academically. And in terms of personal growth, I’m ready to move on to that next step,” said the biology major and Albert Dorman Honors College scholar, who will attend Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS) in the fall.
What’s indeed noteworthy about Uppuluri graduating is that she is doing so after only two years at NJIT, following in the footsteps of her older brother, Aditya, an Honors College alumnus who also finished his studies in two years and is now a rising fourth-year student at Rutgers NJMS. Uppuluri entered the university with a substantial amount of credits she earned from AP exams as well as college-level courses she took the summer before matriculating. Then, while a student in the Honors College’s pre-health accelerated program, she managed a heavy workload each semester and completed summer classes between her freshman and sophomore years.
“In my mind, I wanted to go to medical school as soon as possible,” she said.
Her journey to Rutgers NJMS started in Metuchen, N.J., where Uppuluri grew up as an inquisitive child with a love for reading and an interest in the sciences, especially biology. In high school, she developed an inclination toward clinical practice and began volunteering at medical facilities, first interacting with residents at a nearby nursing home, and then assisting the nursing secretary in the pediatrics department at JFK Medical Center. She shadowed two cardiologists and two ophthalmologists as well, and saw firsthand the strong bond that can develop between physician and patient.
“The social aspect of medicine was also something that I found attractive,” she said, recounting how the cardiologist she followed was both provider and confidante to his patients. “I want to be able to have that kind of impact on someone else’s life.”
When the time came to apply to college, Uppuluri, who was the valedictorian of her high school class, knew she wanted an accelerated pre-health program and turned to her brother for counsel. She was accepted at NJIT and at Brown University, ultimately choosing NJIT because “I felt a sense of community that was fostered here, and the way that I was welcomed as a prospective student was bar none the best reception I received.”
Uppuluri has since nurtured that campus kinship in a variety of ways. She’s served as a co-leader of the Honors Ambassadors program, an Honors peer mentor and an Honors Freshman Seminar teaching assistant. Additionally, she’s been a senior staff writer and copy editor for NJIT’s student-run newspaper, The Vector, and contributed to the Honors College newsletter. She says that she’d like to continue writing and is interested in joining the Rutgers NJMS literary magazine.
Although Uppuluri hasn’t yet honed in on a particular area of medicine to pursue, she’s excited to see how the roles of both technology and practitioner will evolve in the field. She’ll be watching alongside her fellow students, including four others from what she describes as NJIT’s “small and tight-knit” accelerated pre-health cohort. The program has exceeded her expectations, she says.
“You really get to know your peers better, and that’s great because you’re in a long journey with them through medical school.”
What will she miss most about NJIT? The people, first and foremost, and the ground floor of the Central King Building: “That’s my favorite study space.”