WINS students are paired with an alumni mentor who help with the transition to college life. They will also have access to the program coordinator, Elizabeth Morgan, as well as WINS faculty members for additional advice and support.
Name: Roma Bhandarkar
Major: Public Health, B.S.
Hometown: Allen, TX
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS has helped me find my closest group of friends who I know will be there for each other through the ups and downs of college and thereafter.
What is your favorite thing about WINS? Meals on Wheels has definitely been my favorite part of WINS. Delivering meals to those who need it brings a smile to my face, brightens up their day, and makes me realize how fortunate I am to have the food I eat everyday.
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? It's hard to pick a favorite because Austin has so many amazing restaurants, but I would have to say Hula Hut. Go during sunset and enjoy the view of Lake Austin, while eating some delicious Polynesian and Mexican food!
What organizations are you involved in at UT? Texas Public Health and GirlAdvocates!
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Go out and explore Austin every chance you get. After all, you're only here for a couple of years!
Name: Uma Vaidyanathan
Hometown: Austin, TX (Hook ‘em!)
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS has given me a close-knit community amongst such an enormous student body on campus. It was such an amazing opportunity to meet girls who are passionate about the sciences, yet have truly diverse interests and perspectives. I had a group of friends from WINS in almost all of my classes, which was such a valuable benefit as I had a support system already at the start of college! The mentors and advisors also have given me incredible advice in terms of registration, organizations on campus, and about college life in general.
What is your favorite thing about WINS? The support system and lifelong friendships I have made through the program definitely made my transition to college easier and rewarding. Also, I absolutely love that while being part of the WINS program, I am able to promote the natural sciences to other students and be involved in community service projects around the Austin area.
What are your favorite restaurants in Austin? Chuy’s, Titaya’s, Home Slice, and Gourdough's.
What organizations are you involved in at UT? Engineering Chamber Orchestra (EChO), Alpha Epsilon Delta Pre-Health Honor Society (AED), Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) – The Aptamer Stream.
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: There are so many different ways to be involved on campus and finding a student organization that you're interested in is key to making connections and enjoying college. Don't be afraid to go out there and find organizations that you are passionate about; but at the same time, don't spread yourself too thin. Balancing academics with extracurriculars is definitely one of the major challenges of transitioning to college, so commit to a few things you are passionate about and manage your time wisely.
Name: Poonam Vaidya
Major: Neuroscience, B.S.A
Hometown: Sugar Land, TX
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS created this amazing environment where I felt really supported in both my academic and non-academic pursuits. Everyone is so encouraging, and they are ready to cheer you on as you reach for any one of your goals. This program also gave me the opportunity to interact with so many of our amazing faculty and other women in the Austin community. I have already learned so much from their varied but incredibly successful lives.
What is your favorite thing about WINS? I love how different every single one of us is, but we are united in our passion for science. This can take on many forms, ranging from people that want to teach or do research or become doctors, but we are all united by this common interest.
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? My favorite restaurant is more of a coffee shop called Mozart's. It's on Lake Austin, and there is a bus that will take you directly there. The view is gorgeous, but more importantly, there is free Wi-Fi. That makes it a great place to study while still getting to take a break from campus. If you go, try the cannolis!
What organizations are you involved in at UT? I am also involved in Texas Nach Baliye (a co-ed Bollywood Fusion team), Central Texas Model United Nations, Texas Forensics, and two honor societies: Gamma Beta Phi and ALDPES.
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Don't be afraid to try new things. College is all about finding yourself, so you shouldn't let the stress from classes keep you from pursuing your other interests. If you ever really feel like you're struggling, there are tons of resources on campus to help you out. Ask for help! There are so many people that care about you and want you to succeed. It is not a sign of weakness to go to them.
Name: Avanika Patil
Major: Public Health, B.S.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS gave me a strong support system my freshman year, both academically and socially. It provided me valuable resources and opportunities, lifelong friends and mentors, and connected me to inspirational women working in science.
What is your favorite thing about WINS? WINS brings you together with diverse, well-rounded girls who are not only driven in academics, but are also passionate and outgoing. I've met some of my closest friends through WINS!
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? Madola's and Hopdoddy's
What organizations are you involved in at UT? Zoba, UT Pre-PA Society, END7
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Don't be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try something new! You'll learn a lot more when you open yourself up for new experiences. Whether it’s trying something new or starting your own club, UT and WINS provide you with tons of resources so that you can explore yourself and the world around you.
Name: Kiran Makhnejia
Major: Biochemistry, Business Foundations Program
Hometown: Katy, TX
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS has provided me with great friendships and connections from the get go. Being able to meet other goal-oriented girls who share similar passions and excitement drives me to be a better self. It has definitely made my transition into college easier and more fun-filled!
What is your favorite thing about WINS? A great aspect about WINS is that it brings together a diverse group of girls who also share classes with you. So from day one, you already have friends in most of your classes!
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? Hopdoddy's! Make sure to try the Nutella Pretzel Shake. You won't regret it. And Halal Bros is delicious too!
What organizations are you involved in at UT? Texas Pre-Dental Society, University Leadership Network, Supramolecular Sensors Laboratory, and Gamma Beta Phi.
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Being open to new adventures, meeting new friends, and exploring all of your options here on campus will make your freshman experience even better. Even though it might be frightening at first, you already are at an advantage by having a great group of girls to bond with through WINS!
Name: Katherine Bruton
Major: Computer Science
Hometown: San Antonio, TX
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS introduced me to so many awesome girls. The community this program forms made my transition to the college life so much easier. It definitely made UT feel like a second home. Because of WINS, I made so many great memories during my freshman year!
What is your favorite thing about WINS? My favorite thing about WINS was the weekly seminars! It was great getting to learn about other fields of science that I hadn't known about before. I really enjoyed being able to learn about something different each week.
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? Home Slice! Their pizza is the best! And afterwards I love going to Cream Whiskers for delicious cream puffs.
What organizations are you involved in at UT? Women in Computer Science, Mobile App Development.
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Don't spend all of your free time studying. Grades are important, but it's also important to get out there and make connections! Join an organization that really interests you.
Name: Julia Serna
Major: Biology, B.S.A.
Hometown: Houston, TX
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS made the transition from high school to college so much easier! The reserved classes with the best professors and the advice from the mentors made registering for classes a lot less stressful. Also, the WINS girls in the same classes were great friends to study and hangout with. (10/10 would recommend)
What is your favorite thing about WINS? I love the group of driven, incredible girls with similar interests in science that WINS provides.Though we are all in CNS, the entire group is very diverse, and I love getting to know everyone’s different interests outside of the science field.
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? Hopdoddy’s always hits the spot. It’s worth standing in a long line for! Madam Mam’s, Halal Bros, & Torchy’s are also delicious.
What organizations are you involved in at UT? GirlAdvocates!, Alpha Phi Omega (APO) Service Fraternity, Hispanic Health Professions Organization (HHPO), & Freshmen Research Initiative (FRI) Supramolecular Sensors Stream.
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone! Try something new, explore Austin, make friends, and join an organization that fosters your interests. Take advantage of the many opportunities that are offered to you in college, because they’ll provide you with a fun, necessary break from studying.
Name: Nghi Truong
Major: Biology: Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? I don't think that my first year of college would have been so amazing without WINS. Not only am I relieved of the stress of having to register for classes, I also have the opportunity to attend the same class sections as the other WINS girls. Having a group of familiar faces in the sea of strangers was extremely comforting for me. I've met some of my closest friends in college thus far thanks to WINS.
What is your favorite thing about WINS? My favorite aspect of WINS is definitely the opportunity to be a part of Freshman Research Initiative, or FRI. I feel that FRI isn't as widely known as it should be for a program of its caliber, but I'm glad that I was able to participate because of WINS. I have gained so much valuable knowledge and lab experience that I know will be of great use to me when I take upper division lab courses later on.
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? I find myself visiting Pluckers, Chipotle, and Cream Whiskers quite often! However, my favorite place would have to be Ramen Tatsuya.
What organizations are you involved in at UT? Vietnamese Student Association (VSA).
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Don't skip classes! It is very tempting to do this as a freshman, and the bad habit is just going to continue from there. Even though your professors aren't checking for attendance, you miss out on a lot of material because each class moves very rapidly. So stay on top of your game and pass those tests with flying colors!
Name: Aliyah Encarnacion
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
How has WINS contributed to your college experience? WINS has allowed me to foster great relationships with peers and professors, as well as helped prepare me for the perils of college. Through WINS I had the blessing of top notch professors and amazing laboratory opportunities through FRI and professor led labs
What is your favorite thing about WINS? My favorite thing about WINS is the diversity of women that you meet coming in. I've had a great time meeting ladies from across the sciences and have formed incredible friendships!
What is your favorite restaurant in Austin? Hopdoddy's. End of story. If you haven't been, go. You'll thank me later. GORDOUGHS is my favorite dessert place. (All caps for deliciousness).
What are your other involvements at UT? I am involved in: WINS, AMSA, ALDPES and RSAC primarily.
One piece of advice for incoming freshmen: Dive in! Try new things and test your limitations, you'll be surprised at what you can accomplish by taking that step and going for gold!