Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.
Rohini Nott, a newly minted Arizona State University graduate, aspires to be a physician, and she already has ample hands-on health care experience.
This week, Nott graduated ASU summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in bological sciences (biology and society) and business (public service and public policy) with honors from Barrett, The Honors College.
Throughout her undergraduate career, she volunteered with the Student Health Outreach for Wellness (SHOW) Community Initiative, which provides free health care services to vulnerable populations in Maricopa County.
“As an undergraduate, I had the opportunity to serve as a student director of SHOW, which enabled me to lead large-scale service events like our annual Health Fair for the Homeless,” she said.
In her freshman year, Nott served as a general volunteer for the event. By her junior year, she planned and executed the annual health fair and a smaller community health fair on Mill Avenue in Tempe.
“SHOW was one of my favorite undergraduate experiences because I got to meet so many people who share similar interests and passions as I do. I am so grateful that I had the privilege and opportunity to serve members of our community through SHOW as an ASU student,” Nott said.
For her academic achievement, research and community involvement, Nott was recognized as the Barrett Honors College Outstanding Graduate for Research and the School of Life Sciences Student of the Year in Biology and Society. She also received the Moeur Award, which is given to students who have the highest GPA in their class and have completed all of their coursework at ASU.
Starting in the fall, Nott will be attending the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“I hope to be a physician and be involved with discussions about policy changes that can improve health care access for underserved populations,” she said.
We asked Nott to reflect on her undergraduate experiences at ASU.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I didn’t have one big “aha” moment, but rather a series of moments that confirmed to me that I was studying what was right for me. When I committed to ASU, I had selected biological sciences (biology and society) as my major.
Shortly after I committed, Dr. Jane Maienschein, the director of the Center for Biology and Society, reached out to me. We met up and talked about everything, from what my goals for my undergraduate career were to what the biology and society program entailed. I remember feeling so invigorated after meeting with her and excited for what my time at ASU held.
After my first semester, I decided to add business (public service and public policy) as a second major. With my goal of pursuing medical school, I wanted to study something that would allow me to explore academic areas that I would not get to deeply learn beyond my undergraduate studies. I am so glad I had the opportunity to double major.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: A valuable lesson that I learned during my time at ASU is the importance of an interdisciplinary learning approach. I came into college with the mindset that there is always a linear approach to learning or solving a problem.
My mentors, classes and internships taught me that learning is nonlinear and that there is tremendous value to interdisciplinary problem solving. By integrating multiple disciplines and challenging yourself to pursue different ways of thinking, you can get a better understanding of the problem at hand and have a more thorough and creative solution.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: There were many reasons that factored into my decision to attend ASU. As I was considering what university I wanted to attend, I knew I wanted to be at a school that would enable me to thrive both personally and professionally. The opportunities I saw at ASU were endless, in terms of coursework and majors I could select from, clubs and organizations that I could be part of, and work, volunteer, and internship positions I could apply for.
Being such a large university, ASU offers so many growth opportunities to its students, and that was something that really drew me to ASU. Coming from a small high school, I was somewhat wary of how big ASU is. However, I found that Barrett, The Honors College, offered a small school feel within ASU. Similarly, within the School of Life Sciences, W. P. Carey School of Business, and my residence hall, in my freshman year, I met so many people that really made me feel so welcome at ASU. I love how diverse the ASU community is and how being an ASU student has enabled me to meet people of so many backgrounds.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: First, I want to say how hard it was to pick just one professor and one most important lesson because I have had such amazing professors and mentors at ASU. However, one professor that really stands out to me is Dr. Laura Popova, an honors faculty fellow at Barrett Honors College.
Dr. Popova was my Human Event professor during my first year at ASU. I later had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for her during my second year. Having the opportunity to be her student shifted my perspective on what it meant to be an exceptional leader.
Dr. Popova has a vibrant personality and presence and she has the unique ability to facilitate classroom discussions without interjecting too much of her own ideas. She lets her students lead themselves, which is something that I really admire about her teaching style. After taking her class, whenever I would teach others, I would try to emulate her style of letting others form their own conclusions about topics and issues by facilitating, but not overpowering, discussions.
I also want to give a special shout out Dr. Shelley Haydel, who is the director of the School of Life Sciences Undergraduate Research (SOLUR) Program. I have learned so much from her about scientific communication, the research process and networking. From her, and from all my professors at ASU, I have learned so many important lessons that I will take with me beyond college. I have so much gratitude to all my professors. I would not be where I am today without them.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Having had my final semester disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the advice that I would give to those still in school is to seize every moment and not take anything for granted. If there is something you are passionate or curious about, act towards it.
I frontloaded a lot of my harder classes in my initial semesters with the intention of having a more relaxed senior year. I told myself that the stress would all be worth it once I got my relaxed final year. In my final semester, I signed up for classes outside of my majors that I had wanted to take before, but never gave myself time to take, such as modern dance. However, my final semester got disrupted and I ended up taking all those classes I was so eager to take over the internet.
Your time is precious, and your mental health is important. To all those still in school, I encourage you to act and live with the perspective that the future is uncertain and to try to avoid postponing what matters to you.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: I really love going to the second floor of the College Avenue Commons (CAVC) and sitting on the balcony. It is a quieter spot on campus, and it has comfortable seating and offers fresh air. I have loved meeting up with friends and studying up on the second floor. In general, CAVC has a special place in my heart because it is where most campus tours start and throughout college, I was a tour guide with Devils’ Advocates. So, I have a lot of memories that I hold dear that took place in CAVC.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
a: If I had $40 million dollars, I would allocate the money to multiple areas related to the issue of homelessness.
First, I would fund more permanent housing options for people experiencing homelessness, such as permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing. I would also fund both existing and new homeless shelters to increase capacity and quality.
Second, I would fund services that connect people experiencing homeless with job training and placement programs, as well as eviction prevention programs and work support programs like child care and transportation.
Finally, I would fund health care services, such as drop-in clinics and opportunistic care, which can support improved health care access. Addressing the economic and social conditions of those experiencing homelessness would have a significant impact in homelessness prevention and intervention.
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