3 (2)This month we had the chance to interview Vibha G., a BASIS Independent Silicon Valley graduate from the class of 2019. While attending BISV, Vibha was a phenomenal student who participated in many extracurricular activities such as the Leadership Club, Speech and Debate, and the National Honors Society. She tutored in chemistry and attended summer internships in chemistry research. Vibha is currently attending UCLA and majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics. Here's what she had to say about college life after high school:


What are some of the things that you love/appreciate about your college?

I absolutely love UCLA, and it's been a dream so far! We have perfect weather, are located ~15 minutes from the beach, delicious dining hall food including farm-fresh avocado toast, and huge gamedays. I once camped out for twelve hours for one of our basketball games. It's been so much fun going to a bigger school that still prioritizes academics and meeting friends that are passionate about what they do. UCLA has so many resources, and I've enjoyed exploring that - I feel like the "work hard, play hard" mentality holds very true here.

18AC2A40-645A-442B-B59F-84A28CC3E802 - Vibha Gurunathan (2)

Being in LA is also so much fun - I've casually run into celebrities at brunch and film screenings happen so often in our Westwood theater right next to where I grocery shop. I love fashion, so it's also been fun just casually going to the Fashion District, sample-sale shopping for designer brands, and wearing pink cowboy boots like it's normal. 



What have been your experiences with classes, professors, and other resources at your college?

When I came in, I instantly had a number of resources with my Regents Scholarship, including personal faculty mentorship from first the head of the Department of Chemistry, and then later the head of the Department of Microbiology when I transferred majors. I've had some larger classes, but overall I've loved them - I've gotten to take classes in fields I'm heavily interested in and explore other interests outside of my major, including Global Studies and French Cinema.

I've gotten to explore my other interests outside of class, where I'm extremely involved in research. I've had a great PI who's heavily mentored me and has been so supportive (including baking a cake for my birthday), and I've gotten the opportunity to travel for research conferences and present my work.



Have you changed your major or transferred to a different university since starting college? If so, what prompted that change? Was there anything challenging/surprising about the process?

I switched majors from Chemistry to Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics! It was during the very beginning of my college experience, and it was surprisingly easy to switch and develop a new plan with my major counselor. I switched because I discovered my new major was an option and I was frankly much more interested in it than chemistry.


What professional activities have you engaged in outside the classroom (for example, internships, research, co-ops, etc.)?

Outside the classroom, I've engaged in a number of professional activities. Over the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I was an EMT working with an ambulance company in downtown LA. Before that, I volunteered in the ER at UCLA's Ronald Reagan Hospital.

I've also gotten heavily involved in my research lab. I've been published once in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, and over the past year I've been working on an independent project studying pancreatic cancer and how to make it more susceptible to radiation therapy. I've gotten the chance to travel to New Orleans for the annual American Association of Cancer Research conference, where I was able to present and network with leaders in the cancer research field. I've also presented at UCLA's Undergraduate Research Conference, and I'm planning to go to more conferences this year. 

Besides all of this, I've gotten involved in clubs, and am the President of the International Institute's main club, the Global Development Lab. When I was solely a member of the lab, I developed a capstone project with my partner over the course of a year attempting to curb maternal mortality in Assam, India. We won 1,000 dollars in seed funding to implement it, and we've partnered with nonprofit organizations to develop it. Now, I currently lead the lab, developing the curriculum and applying for grants to continue this process this past year and the next year.


Describe your experience living on your own. (Have you gotten along with your roommates? How are the dorms? Have you moved off campus?)

I have absolutely loved my roommates. Freshman year I lived in our worst dorms (but the most social ones) and I ended up meeting some of the best people that have stayed as some of my closest friends even after we moved out. (In my opinion, communal showers are something everyone has to go through at least once.) In my sophomore year, I was supposed to stay roommates with my freshman year roommates and live in a nicer dorm, but covid was at its peak, so I moved to an apartment with a different roommate, who is my current summer roommate. 

IMG_0183 - Vibha Gurunathan (2)Then, I subleased over the summer with a bunch of random girls that were rugby players that I had never met, and we became really, really good friends. This past year, I didn't have roommates, which I was sad about, but I got my own room because I was an RA for our freshman dorm (the same one I lived in as a freshman!) It was honestly so fun having my freshman gossip with me and planning events for them, and I stayed friends with a lot of them after I stopped being their RA. I currently live in a summer sublet apartment with my sophomore-year roommate and one of our other close friends, and after the summer ends I'll be moving into my sorority house soon.

I've lived in probably every different living situation UCLA offers, and I've honestly enjoyed all of them. I think the dorms are a true rite of passage for freshmen, and I loved my tiny-closet room. I've had the absolute best roommates ever - they've done everything from surprising me and taking me to Rodeo Drive for a birthday dinner, picking me up from campus when I'm tired, and going on random ice cream runs with me. My roommates have all been so amazing, and I highly suggest Facebook groups and going with random gut feelings.


A special thank you to Vibha for sharing her insight into college life after BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. 

The Alumni Voice is a blog series that dives into college life after high school for our BISV graduates. We strive to create lasting partnerships with our alumni and strongly believe that  "once a Bobcat, always a Bobcat!" Stay tuned for the continuation of the series with graduate Griffin T., Class of 2019. 


Photos in this blog were personally submitted by Vibha G. and used with her permission


BASIS Independent Silicon Valley is a TK - Grade 12 private school, providing students with an internationally benchmarked liberal arts and sciences curriculum, with advanced STEM offerings. Considering joining the Bobcat community? Join our interest list by clicking here to receive admissions updates for fall 2023 and more.