(Posted May 18, 2018)

Photo: Ichiro Narita '18 

Photo: Ichiro Narita '18 

Huntingdon, Pa. -- Soumya Polavarapu, a junior from Bridgewater, New Jersey, who studies biochemistry with a secondary emphasis in art history at Juniata College, has been awarded the Andrew Mutch Scholarship from the St. Andrews Society of Philadelphia. The award will enable her to the University of Glasgow in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Polavarapu is hoping to pursue a career in public health and learn from this experience to prepare herself for the pursuit of an M.D./Ph.D. in epidemiology, public health or global medicine.

The application process for the Mutch Scholarship is long and arduous. Polavarapu completed it while taking a challenging courseload of biology and medical anthropology courses that, when completed, will enable her to graduate from Juniata on time and, simultaneously, complete the study abroad component of the Mutch Scholarship.

“Professors Barlow and Fletcher worked with me on my essay for the scholarship throughout winter break,” Polavarapu says. “They conducted mock interviews with me and taught me about Scotland’s National Healthcare Service. During my scholarship interview in Philadelphia, I realized how well Juniata prepared me to talk about the ethics of healthcare. Other interviewees were not as prepared.”

Only a handful of students from 30 participating colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, each of whom are invited to submit applications, are selected to attend one of the four participating universities in Scotland—each known as “Scotland’s Ivies”—for one year. Polavarapu is the 24th Juniata College student to receive this prestigious award since Juniata's affiliation with the program in 1979. To be considered for the scholarship, candidates complete an application, write an essay, and interview for one of the four scholarships.

“I am a first generation college student and a woman of color,” Polavarapu says. “Accomplishing these goals is empowering for me and I feel that, at Juniata, no matter what decision you make, people will guide you.” 

During her undergraduate career at Juniata, Polavarapu conducted undergraduate research with Dan Dries, associate professor of chemistry, and John Unger, associate professor of chemistry.

She also interned with Force for Health, a J.C. Blair Health System initiative aimed at identifying healthcare challenges in rural areas. As part of her work with Force for Health, Polavarapu assisted in creating a resource directory aimed at helping enhance health outcomes for the local community. Together with her peers, Polavarapu’s work caught the attention of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Health.

No matter the project, Polavarapu values the partnerships she’s had with faculty and staff at Juniata and in the Huntingdon community.

“I am a first generation college student and a woman of color,” Polavarapu says. “Accomplishing these goals is empowering for me and I feel that, at Juniata, no matter what decision you make, people will guide you.” 

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.