First-year Smayana Kurapati smiles on the sidelines of the football field at her high school, Westlake High School, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., in May 2020. Kurapati said after graduating from high school in 2020 and beginning a remote year at Pepperdine, she is eager to experience normal life on campus with her peers.
Photos courtesy of Smayana Kurapati
Thousand Oaks is only about 20 miles from Malibu, but first-year Biology major Smayana Kurapati said it is the perfect distance to both grow at college and stay connected to her hometown.
Kurapati lives on campus in Malibu after applying for a housing waiver and participates in a few extracurricular activities, but said she still stays connected with her hometown by volunteering at a local clinic.
“It’s so important, especially going to school somewhere so close to where I grew up, to give back to the place that helped make me who I am,” Kurapati said.
Pepperdine’s location is one reason she enrolled at Seaver College, but she said the quality of the Biology program was perhaps her biggest motivation.
Kurapati said her love for science began in middle school. The field of biology in particular has always been interesting to her because of its potential for new discoveries, especially with undiscovered species and the parts of the ocean scientists haven’t reached yet.
“There’s so much unknown in front of our eyes and that’s what really drew me in,” Kurapati said.
While she hasn’t decided on a specific career path yet, Kurapati said she is considering doing research professionally or going into the medical field.
“I like the medical aspect because I love being with people and talking to people and getting to know them,” Kurapati said. “But also, research, scientific research especially, is such an important factor for our future.”
Through her extracurricular involvement and social media, Kurapati said she feels connected to the community, even as classes continue virtually.
“I’ve already made friends with people who aren’t even in my major, who I’ve never had a class with, and I feel like that’s such a big part of Pepperdine and its culture,” Kurapati said.
Kurapati said her cousin graduated from Pepperdine in 2020, and he enjoyed the community that exists on campus, which is an experience she looks forward to having for herself.
“He always talked about how you’ll see the same people every day and you’ll create such good connections and relationships with these people because it’s such a tight-knit community and that allows you to get to know people better,” Kurapati said.
Even though she already feels like a part of the Pepperdine community, Kurapati said she is eager to get the typical experience of a student at Seaver College, especially after finishing her high school career remotely and not having the chance to tour Pepperdine before beginning her first year.
“I never really got the feel of a campus life,” Kurapati said. “I just want to see what it’s like.”
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