Honors student selected for full tuition scholarship at University of Michigan Medical School

Kavya Davuluri with Spirit of Community Awards presenters
Kavya Daviluri accepting award as the
Student Recipient of the 2019 Wayne State
Spirit of Commuinity Awards. 

Kavya Davuluri graduated from Wayne State with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology (with University Honors), a minor in Spanish, and an undergraduate certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation from the Mike Ilitch School of Business. She recently received the Michigan Innovation in Medicine (MI MED) Scholarship from the University of Michigan Medical School, which covers the cost of four years of medical school and graduate housing at Munger Graduate Residences. Honors interviewed her about her scholarship, her time in the Honors College and at Wayne State, and asked about her future plans.

How do you feel about getting into the University of Michigan’s Medical School and receiving the MI Med Scholarship (full-ride tuition and housing scholarship)?

I was incredibly surprised and just immensely blessed to receive admission to Michigan, so receiving the scholarship was completely uncalled for and very unexpected.

When did you find out you received the scholarship?

I received the email that I was being offered the scholarships 40 minutes before an exam that I had. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I turned the laptop over to my friend who was studying with me and asked her to read the email to confirm what it said. She glanced at it and told me, “I think you have a full ride!” I was just in utter shock

I didn’t apply for the scholarship nor was I given a reason why I was being offered it. The MI MED program was started by Dean of Admissions, Dr. Gay, a few years ago. Only three students receive this scholarship annually. Due to the nature of the scholarship I'm led to believe that it's because of my inter-disciplinary background while I was an undergrad at Wayne State.  I co-founded and led OptimizeWayne and very heavily in thesocial impact, entrepreneurship, and innovation realm. I also worked closely with Provost Whitfield and his Entrepreneurship and Innovation (E&I) Steering Committee, interned at Invest Detroit, and worked at Bamboo Detroit.

Throughout my application and interview process I was very vocal about my passion for entrepreneurship, my interest in getting an MD/MBA while I was at UM, and the possibility of intertwining these two fields. So I think that the admissions team saw that I have this interdisciplinary background and that I was choosing medicine, not because I was  putting aside my other interests but because I wanted to see a confluence of these two interests. And that’s why I think I was offered this scholarship.

Why did you choose to apply to the University of Michigan?

Apart from U of M being so close to home and being such a prestigious institution, they had a lot of programs and opportunities that I think were unique. They offer global rotations, so if I So wanted to do medical rotations in another country, I would be able to do that. If I wanted to try rotating in a different part of the country, I could do that through their away rotation program as well. They also offer the MD/MBA program, which was very interesting to me, and the organizations and the opportunities…are extremely plentiful. The research opportunities, particularly the kind of humanities and social sciences that I’ve had experience with due to my psychology degree at Wayne State, are exciting as well. UM just kind of checked off a lot of boxes that were very personal to me and opportunities that I wanted to have a medical school.

What are you looking to do with your career?

Truth be told, I have absolutely no idea. When I started OptimizeWayne and I became really interested in entrepreneurship and the social impact space, it felt like medicine and entrepreneurship are mutually exclusive. And I'm finding out that they really aren't. I think at U of M, in particular, they offer such an interdisciplinary format of educating their medical students so there's plentiful of opportunities for me to kind of explore what I want to do that combine these two fields. I think it’s possible that I want to become a practicing doctor for a few years and then eventually shift into the venture capital space. It's very undefined right now, and I think that even the specialty that I want go into is as well—which seems to be the question on everyone’s minds!

So you’re interested in the social entrepreneurship/social aspect of medicine? 

I got my major in Psychology at Wayne State, so that definitely kind of geared me towards humanities, towards social sciences and then kind of plugging that into medicine. By working in the health care institutions in Detroit such as the Detroit Medical Center and Henry Ford Hospital, you see how critical social determinants of health are and how healthcare organizations influence the health outcomes of the marginalized populations in Detroit and elsewhere. So plugging that into OptimizeWayne and seeing all these different students from Detroit and the southeastern Michigan region come together to rectify injustices that they observed in their childhood--it really kind of created this cohesive view for me. I determined that I want to use both entrepreneurship and medicine to empower others to achieve a baseline level of health that they need to really actualize their own vision, their own missions. But I think that just being in Detroit and having the opportunity to connect with so many diverse individuals, and work at such impactful institutions, has really allowed me to better understand my purpose and what I want to do going forward.

We know you did OptimizeWayne. What else did do at Wayne State?

Kavya Davuluri with Honors Dean John Corvino at Honors Commencement
Kavya with Dean John Corvino at the
2019 Honors Commencement on May 1.

I also worked on the Hands-Only CPR Challenge with Cedric Mutebi. I also led Timmy Global Health, an organization I’ve been a part of since freshman year, as president this past year. I was also a Resident Advisor and then I was working with Dean Corvino, Provost Whitfield and Honors on developing a program called Wayne Engage.

Talk briefly about being selected as the Student Recipient of the Spirit of Community Awards.

My partner, Sergio Rodriguez, and I work together on so many initiatives. His sister, Tannia, is incredibly accomplished in her own work and won the award last year.  When she won, I was in awe. It seemed like such an honor and she was thrilled to have received it. Sergio observed how impressed I was then very sweetly led this little nominations campaign where he reached out to a few people in the community that he knew had recognized my hard work, including senior leadership at the University and he asked them if they would be willing to nominate me. My friend Sara Fresard was also key to this. I hadn't heard about any of this until after the fact--until after I won the award. I was very honored and the timing of it seemed so perfect with my impending graduation so it just felt kind of full circle. It felt so great to be recognized for all that I’ve done and it was motivation to continue doing what I've been doing at Wayne State at U of M..

How has the Honors College contributed over your four years at Wayne State?

I think Honors has taught me that you can't just take anything at face value. You can definitely just kind of go along with the flow and just do what is expected of you and hope that it turns out in your favor just based on who you are. But I think that working with Dr. Corvino and interacting with Dean Herron and being in Detroit and having exposure to the city that honors has provided me, it made me realize that you know you have to hustle. It's not just a matter of doing the bare minimum and hoping that everything turns out great, but it's matter of connecting with people and working with them and going above and beyond in a way that people wouldn't expect to really showcase who you are and to demonstrate that you really want something you work for it instead of just doing the bare minimum.

What was your favorite Honors moment?

Graduation (the Honors Ceremony) was kind of cool to see everyone in their caps and gowns in their golden colors! I think, in retrospect, the first year of Honors, when I was going through two prerequisite courses - Honors 1000 and PS 1010 - and going to the Redford Theater or going to Eastern Market, it felt kind of like a mandated field trip. But I’ve found that I've gone back to Eastern Market or the DIA or other places in Detroit on my own because I felt comfortable going back because I had gone with Honors. Even though I didn't feel like it at the time, I think that my favorite moment would have to actually seeing those places for the first time surrounded by my peers and my professors and really being encouraged to explore because that kind of percolated throughout the rest of my career at Wayne State.

What advice would you give to incoming students to Wayne State and the Irvin D. Reid Honors College?

I would say to take advantage of every resource that's being offered to you. It may seem kind of silly to really reach out to your Deans or administrators and try and work with them and be supported by them. It can make you feel like you’re trying to be a teacher’s pet! But, at the end of the day, these people are individuals who have a lot of power and a lot of influence at the University and they can use that to lift up students who they recognize are really catalysts for change or are leaders in their community. So if you demonstrate that you are really trying to make an impact or that you're really interested in working with these administrators, Honors has a plethora of resources that can really uplift students. But I think taking advantage of your community and the resources in the individuals that holds is one of the best things that an Honors student can do.

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