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Maleka Khambaty -
University Honors Scholars Alumni

In fall 2004, Maleka Khambaty began her undergraduate studies at East Tennessee State University. She was motivated and determined to pursue her dream of becoming a medical doctor. Now, an ETSU and University Honors Scholar alumna with a B.S. in Biology, Maleka is following her dream and completing her M.D. at Quillen College of Medicine.  Obviously, much of her success can be attributed to her determination, attitude and exceptional academic performance. However, Maleka modestly attributes much of her accomplishments to her time spent as a University Honors Scholar.

The University Honors Scholars program, one of twenty Honors programs within ETSU's Honors College, provides full scholarship support for four years to a limited number of exceptional incoming freshmen each academic year.  When Maleka was accepted into the University Honors Scholars program, she was elated and eager to begin her academic journey at ETSU. On the other hand, she was fearful about coming into an unfamiliar environment, meeting new people and being challenged at a different scholastic level.  These challenges were barriers that Maleka felt she would have to overcome if she were to be successful in her undergraduate career at ETSU.  Maleka confronted these obstacles head-on and gives credit to the University Honors Scholar program for assisting her in making the transition from high school to college much easier.  I really enjoyed being a University Honors Scholar because the program provided a diverse and focused community that allowed students to come together and learn from each other in various settings that are different from the typical undergraduate classes, says Maleka.

Maleka pointed out specific academic and social advantages that she gained from the University Honors Scholars program that have assisted her in making the transition to medical school.   Maleka says,  The smaller class sizes were obviously an advantage of being a University Honors Scholar because you could easily interact with the professors.  She credits the University Honors Scholars program learning environment for her increased confidence during interactions with faculty.  In addition, she says,  We were exposed to knowledgeable and concerned faculty members that were always interested in teaching us the material, she says.

Maleka reports that the Honors-enriched curriculum, creative projects and research opportunities contributed to improved critical thinking skills which prepared her for medical school.  The classes and faculty always kept us on our toes and helped build our work ethic, which in turn has helped me transition and adapt to medical school because I am better prepared for this type of classroom setting.  Additionally, she credits the various writing and presentation opportunities she had as a University Honors Scholar being instrumental in the development of skills in these areas and becoming more comfortable writing and presenting at a higher academic level. 

Socially, Maleka reports the University Honors Scholars program helped her form lasting friendships with others in the program.  The friendships I made during my time as an undergraduate in the program grew and matured throughout the program and helped make my experience much more enjoyable, she says. Every time we met at the Honors Social or at Christmas parties, it was fun because throughout the program we had formed such close relationships with each other.  Additionally, she credits her success to the professional and personal advising she received from Dean Rebecca Pyles and former Curriculum Coordinator Joe Rice who guided and mentored her throughout her undergraduate career.  In addition to these advantages, the University Honors Scholar program offers a variety of community service opportunities which Maleka says developed her interest in helping others.

As part of the University Honors Scholars program, students are encouraged to participate in campus and community service activities.  Maleka fondly reflects on her experiences at the Ronald McDonald House, Second Harvest Food Bank and clean-up events throughout the community as valuable opportunities.  Maleka adds that each of these service activities prepared and encouraged her to play an active part in the community.  Each of these opportunities was extremely meaningful to me and I had a lot of fun doing them, Maleka says.  Not every academic program offers these types of experiences to their students, so I feel lucky that I had this chance.

Maleka advises other prospective University Honors Scholars students to seek out the unique opportunities that the program offers.  I would encourage anyone who meets the qualifications for the program to apply for admission early on,  she says.  I've been privileged to be a graduate of such a unique program because it has provided me with priceless knowledge and experiences that I will carry with me into the medical profession. 

Maleka graduated from Quillen College of Medicine in 2012. She plans to do a residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas, Texas.  Maleka says, "I appreciate the time I had as a University Honors Scholar and am thankful for the experiences and opportunities that have led me to this particular place in my life."  She is very excited about her residency and is eagerly looking forward to continuing her medical training in Dallas!


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Named Honors College Scholarship Endowments


Alumni Spotlight

USPS Mailing Address:
The Honors College at
East Tennessee State University
PO Box 70589
Johnson City, TN 37614-1708

Phone: 423.439.6076
Fax: 423.439.6080
email:  Honors College

Street Addresses of The Honors College offices:
  Administration: Yoakley Hall, Room 129
161 S. Dossett Drive
University & Midway Scholars: Ada Earnest House
310 S. Dossett Drive
Honors-in-Discipline Programs: Yoakley Hall, Room 206
161 S. Dossett Drive
Fine & Performing Art Scholars: Yoakley Hall, Room 206
161 S. Dossett Drive
Undergraduate Research: Yoakley Hall, Room 129
161 S. Dossett Drive
International Programs & Services: Yoakley Hall, Room 122
161 S. Dossett Drive