A Platform to Excel

Anu Hanumanthu

Anu Hanumanthu was looking for a nurturing environment that would build the foundation for her ultimate goal — becoming a physician.

She found that and more at NC State University, where she is now a senior majoring in biological sciences with a concentration in integrative physiology and neurobiology. Hanumanthu, who graduates in May, is also minoring in health, medicine and human values.

“I came in very shy, timid and anxious. But the College of Sciences really gave me a platform to show that I could excel as a leader. It helped me with my communication skills and allowed me to network with alumni on campus,” she said. “The college reaches out to students, allowing them to make meaningful personal connections.”

She describes her studies at NC State as a combination of science, philosophy and ethics.

“I think science education is only added to by social sciences and humanities,” Hanumanthu said.

At NC State, she sharpened her leadership skills as an ambassador for both the College of Sciences and the Life Sciences First Year program and as a peer leader in the PackTrack undergraduate research program. She has also served as president of both the Collegiate Academy of the North Carolina Academy of Sciences and the NC State chapter of 4 the World, an organization that provides medical and educational assistance in developing communities by organizing hunger awareness events on campus, such as the Oxfam America Hunger Banquet.

Hanumanthu received the College of Sciences 2016 Student Leadership Award and the Margie Collins Student Leaders Scholarship. She’s also in both the University and Biological Sciences honors programs.

It’s an impressive résumé, but Hanumanthu began honing her skills as a leader and mentor before she arrived on NC State’s campus.

Born in India and raised in Detroit, Hanumanthu moved to North Carolina with her family when she was in high school. It was a tough transition for the then-10th grader.  

“I stopped doing activities,” she said. “I was on the track, cross country and ski teams and stopped all these things. I stopped playing the violin. I would just go to school and come home.”

That changed when she got involved with the freshman orientation program at her high school.

“I realized that I really loved talking to these students who were coming from the same perspective as me — moving from somewhere in 10th grade — whether they were from South Africa or Boston,” Hanumanthu said. “It was a great feeling to connect with them for the year, helping and guiding them.”

The same spirit led Hanumanthu to get involved at NC State, initially with the Life Sciences First Year program, which was new at the time. She became a class assistant and a TA. She also provided academic advising and helped students with résumés, email etiquette and options for careers and majors.

This type of support system, combined with an exceptional faculty and a warm and welcoming student body, helped draw Hanumanthu to NC State.

“NC State is such a friendly campus,” she said. “Even though it’s so large, it feels small because it feels like home.”

She was impressed by the resources for students interested in medical careers and the plentiful opportunities for undergraduate research. She is currently conducting research on estrogen receptors in the biochemistry department to find new treatment methods for different types of cancers.

Grants from the Office of Undergraduate Research — which receives private support — have enhanced Hanumanthu’s research and allowed her to travel to participate in conferences like the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and the North Carolina Academy of Sciences, where she received second place for her poster presentation.

Hanumanthu knows that without philanthropy from alumni and friends, many of the extraordinary experiences she had at NC State would not have been possible.

I don’t think my research would’ve gotten where it is now without donor support,” she said.

“Every student comes here with a dream, and having the support and mentorship of donors and alumni only adds to that. The advice they give from experience really helps students understand where they want to go and form more concrete paths. And in the end I think it’s all a way of giving back.”

Hanumanthu is the first person in her family to attend an American university. For that reason and many others, she said NC State would always be a special place for her.

“Coming here, my parents were very nervous. They’re immigrants to America. They had no idea what their children’s futures were going to be like,” she said. “It meant a lot for my family and for me to come to NC State, so I definitely intend to give back. It’s instilled in us here to serve our communities.”

In the fall, Hanumanthu will take a big step toward becoming a doctor when she starts medical school at the Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine.

This post was originally published in Giving News.

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