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Making a Difference

When Deepthika Ennamuri (HBS ’14) was in high school, she was certain she wanted to attend university outside her native Oregon. But on an April afternoon during her senior year, she went to a welcome reception for students accepted into the Oregon State Honors College and found camaraderie where she didn’t expect. Now on the cusp of graduation, after an extremely successful career at Oregon State, she credits that reception with making all the difference.

“The Honors College faculty took the time to talk to me about what I should look for in universities as a pre-med student,” she says, remembering the event. “It meant a lot to me because they really seemed to care.”

Ennamuri, a biochemistry and biophysics major, says she has received immense support from both the HC and her department while she’s been an Oregon State student.

“There’s never a feeling for me like I don’t have someone to go to on campus,” she says. “There’s a lot of faculty support based on your interests.”

One of the characteristics she likes most about the university is the ability to develop those interests, no matter how diverse. The breadth of student opportunities, she says, makes the university a great place to discover new passions.

And she’s certainly taken advantage of that: When she explains that Oregon State is “a really good place to try new things and not be afraid,” it’s a sentiment elaborated by the experience inscribed in her lengthy list of activities and the numerous accolades she has received for her campus involvement.

Ennamuri is a 2014 recipient of a Student Leader Award from the Women’s Center, a Clara H. Waldo & A.E. Cummings Outstanding Student Award, and the Robert MacVicar Award for Exceptional Service to Mortar Board. Mortar Board is a senior honors society that promotes service, leadership, and scholarship through various events and volunteer activities around campus and the wider community; Ennamuri was secretary of the society during the 2012-2013 school year and president this year.

And to cap it off, she was selected as the featured student speaker for President Ed Ray’s annual commencement dinner, a high honor given to one graduating student each year.

Research has been the cornerstone experience for Ennamuri during her time at Oregon State. She has benefited from diverse funding sources for her work, beginning with involvement in a National Science foundation project in the summer after her freshman year. Another project, a study of the role of vitamin E in speeding recovery from spinal cord injuries, was funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and conducted at the Linus Pauling Institute.  And, in the summer of 2013, she worked at Oregon Health and Science University in a neuroscience lab studying developmental disorders. In addition to research itself, she served as editor of Oregon State’s undergraduate research magazine, The Catalyst.

Ennamuri’s research on spinal cord injury recovery eventually became the basis for her HC thesis, which was recognized by the Honors College with an Outstanding Thesis Award Honorable Mention.

Her interest in a medical career has remained constant through her time at Oregon State, even as her specific interests have shifted away from psychiatry and mental health and toward primary care.

“It’s a field that I can make a difference in,” she says.

And she speaks strongly of how the HC and Oregon State made a difference to her.

“I don’t know if I would have chosen OSU if it weren’t for the Honors College,” she says. “They take time to remember what students are like, what they’re interested in. That really made a difference with my choice.”

By Jessica Kibler

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