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Basketball helps ASU student score in STEM

Sai Tummala in an ASU men's basketball game
May 08, 2015

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To hear Sai Tummala tell it, basketball helped him in his STEM classes.

Performing on the court helped him relate to the physiology classes he was taking and motivated him to excel. Both were difficult, but he learned to stick with the things he wanted to do.

Tummala played on the Sun Devils men’s basketball team, appearing in 14 games and averaging little more than 4 minutes per game.

But in the classroom he really starred.

Tummala is a member of Barrett, The Honors College, carried a 4.0 grade-point average and made the dean's list every semester.

He will graduate with a degree in biology, animal physiology and behavior. His plans include medical school, having already passed the Medical College Admissions Test.

“Both my parents are physicians. So growing up I was naturally drawn to it,” Tummala said of his choice to go into STEM. “I thought it was easy and really interesting.”

Now that he is graduating, Tummala relishes the opportunities he was given and the help he received along the way. As a result he has a great appreciation for those who teach.

He learned about teacher caring when working on his thesis, which was an assessment of the Bio Bridge student transition program.

“It was cool for me to see the way teachers and professors in institutions work, and try to improve student experiences,” he said.

This supported a fact he experienced while at ASU.

“The teachers I’ve had are really passionate about teaching, and they push their students to go beyond the classroom and explore,” he said. “It was surprising to me while at ASU how much STEM teachers really care. It was very impressive.”

Tummala plans to take a year off and then get serious again about his future in STEM.

“I’m hoping to go to med school,” he said. “I’m interested in orthopedics, orthopedic surgery, so I can stay around sports for the rest of my life.”