Nithya Kumar had an eventful summer. She began by spending a month in Argentina, taking two classes, and studying about women’s health and reproductive rights in South America in comparison to the United States. Then she returned to campus to research bees, and why there are fewer pollinators, with Sarah Dawson, Ph.D., the director of F&M’s Center for the Sustainable Environment.

“In Argentina, I lived with a host family and spoke Spanish all the time,” Kumar said. “Then I returned for my Hackman (Hackman Scholarships allow students to pursue full-time research in the summer with an F&M faculty mentor) to study pollinators. That research continues into my senior year, and we will produce a series of recommendations to F&M’s landscapers to plant specific plant species that will bring more pollinators to our campus.”

The biology and Spanish double major is from Suffern, New York, but her family is originally from the south of India. She speaks Spanish and Malayalam, in addition to English, and for fun, she plays the viola in the F&M symphony orchestra and is a tour guide for the F&M Office of Admission. She’s also a sister in Kappa Delta sorority.

“I do a lot of things that get me around a lot of people,” she said. “Like being a tour guide. I was a shy person when I came to F&M; now I communicate directly with 100 families every week!”

Kumar has been a student sports medicine assistant at F&M for the past three years. This year, she is working as a medical assistant at the Health Campus, part of Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. She says she has always wanted to do something in the medical field.

“I will eventually go to medical school,” she said, “but I’m also interested in mental health and public health. I plan to do more clinical work, and work directly with patients. I’m talking with my pre-health adviser and I may decide to get my master’s degree, and then go to medical school.”

Kumar is grateful for the experiences she is having at F&M, and for the liberal arts education that has exposed her to so much and provided exceptional preparation for further learning and leading.

“I’ve developed skills I didn’t have and didn’t know I needed,” she said. “I know a little bit about everything, and I know how to write and how to communicate better.”

Kumar is also grateful to receive the Jack Berger Endowed Scholarship, which—with other financial aid—helps her to afford an education at Franklin & Marshall.

“Financial aid has allowed me to make the most of my F&M experience,” she said. “I am able to learn a lot, without fearing that my family wouldn’t be able to support me enough. I don’t have enough words to describe how much this means to me and my family.”

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