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
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!