Education Without Boundaries
Geetika Gupta has always wanted to be a surgeon.
So it was imperative to her to attend a college with a strong program in the sciences. However, she also had attended a Quaker high school with about 500 total students, and “It was important that the community be small at the college I was going to attend,” Gupta adds.
She and her family looked at colleges that were small and private, and Goucher really stood out. Gupta says she felt an instant connection when she arrived on campus and is “absolutely happy to be here.”
Gupta, who has high energy and sharply focused determination, was ready to dive into academic and extracurricular life at Goucher as soon as she got here. Her first-year adviser reigned her in and wisely encouraged her to focus on academics her very first semester and get used to being in college. “It’s important to make your first impressions good,” Gupta concurs, particularly for a student on the pre-med track.
So she waited, and she observed. But she also participated in a lot of science-related activities her first semester to get to know her fellow students and her professors.
Now that she has been at Goucher long enough not only to acclimate to life on campus, but to thrive here, she realizes that depending on how she chooses her curriculum, she likely will grow up with a “family” of her colleagues within her academic program. Gupta jokes, “There are some people you can’t escape. It feels like you’re with them 24/7.” And she’s glad for this. Because of Goucher’s close-knit community — particularly within the sciences — she adds, “Professors know your name, your birthday, your family; it’s like having a friend.”
Gupta has gotten involved with the Chemistry Club and is now co-president of the Biology Club, which has existed for many years but suffers from low participation. She and other Biology Club members are trying to ramp up interest in their signature events — a Halloween party, banquet, and end-of-year picnic. They also have begun hosting “coffee informals” to get students and alumnae/i together to talk and network.
She says she loves to plan and coordinate meetings and events for the club and was very excited about the arrival of a shipment of cookie cutters shaped like labware so they could make frosted, edible beakers, atoms, and test tubes to raise awareness of the organization and the energy of its new leadership.
However, it was during the second semester of her freshman year that Gupta and another student co-founded the Bollywood Dance Club, which she calls “my life and soul on campus!” — outside of academics, of course.
Gupta, who was born in New Delhi, India, had studied classical dancing for six years and modern contemporary dance for three years. “I’ve never been able to fuse everything into the style I truly love. That’s Bollywood,” she enthuses.
The club has grown to six or eight regular members with another four or five fluctuating in and out, depending on their academic obligations. They meet at least three times a week but only practice once unless they have performances lined up. Then they practice “all the time,” according to Gupta. The club performs mostly on Goucher’s campus, such as during International Education Week, but it recently did a huge show with dance teams from all over the area.
“It’s good to have a passion that is not going to be your job,” says Gupta, who admits, “Dance is my passion.”
This fervor definitely isn’t deterring her from her professional goals. She fits in studying for the MCATS as much as her packed schedule will allow, and she’s already working on narrowing down her list of preferred medical schools so she can become a surgeon.
“I want to physically heal people so they can fulfill their dreams, too,” she says.