Maya Kelkar

Plenty of Schools Wanted Maya Kelkar — Maya Wanted Georgia State

Georgia State’s Presidential Scholars arrive on campus as incoming freshmen with more than just good grades. They possess the open minds, creativity, and dedication to hard work and discovery upon which our university was founded. In return, the Presidential Scholarship covers full tuition and fees and provides stipends for living expenses and study-abroad opportunities. Presidential Scholars are also part of the Honors College and receive specialized advising and mentoring by faculty and staff. Over the next few weeks, we’ll introduce you to each member of Georgia State’s 2013 class of Presidential Scholars, a diverse group of students with widely varying interests and goals for their futures. We’re proud to call them Georgia State Panthers — and to have invested in their future success.

 

If Maya Kelkar has half as much success in college as she did applying to college, her next four years will be a breeze.

Maya says her family has always taken college education seriously, and so does she. She applied to 12 schools all over the eastern United States, and got into 10 of them — places such as Michigan, North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and the University of Pennsylvania. “My dream school was initially Penn, because they’re the only Ivy League school with an undergraduate nursing program,” she says. “And then I saw the price tag and realized, ‘This isn’t really attainable.’

“A little before that, I’d gotten a scholarship letter from Georgia State — it actually came on my birthday, which was a nice surprise. So I said, ‘OK, I’ll go, I’ll see what happens.’ I got a call just a couple days later that said I’d gotten the Presidential Scholarship, and I was shocked — I was excited, but I didn’t really know what was going to happen at that point. So I did some research, and I found out Georgia State has one of the best nursing programs in Georgia, and that they have access to places like Grady Memorial Hospital and Children’s Healthcare just down the road. That made the decision for me. I really want to be a pediatric nurse, so having those resources so close is an incredible asset.”

A Caring Heart with a Call to Serve

Maya says she’s always wanted to take care of people. She’s been both a lifeguard and a counselor at Girl Scout camp, where she says she developed a special knack for taking care of children and communicating with them. For her, nursing is a logical step.

“You get to help people stay healthy and live better lives, and that’s exactly what I want to do, especially with children,” she says. “I want to help improve people’s quality of life and help them stay healthy while living that life.”

Maya’s drawn to more than the medical science aspect of nursing, though — the personal relationships that nurses build with their patients are also a big draw for her. “You get to have a relationship where you see and work with children at many different stages of their lives, and that’s what I look forward to doing someday.”

Before she embarks on a career, though, Maya says she’d like to join a service organization helping poor or underserved populations. “I want to participate in a program such as Doctors Without Borders where I’d go overseas, work for a small stipend and help the children to start healthy habits and get them on the right track. Or it could be the same type of thing here in America, wherever people need that help. But I know I want to give back.”

A Diverse Crowd — and a Close-Knit Community

Though Maya had plenty of options when it came to college, she expresses no regrets about staying close to home and going to Georgia State to take advantage of the Presidential Scholarship and the Honors College. “The only thing I haven’t liked about college so far is that I have a 7:30 a.m. anatomy class,” she says, smiling. “Walking there in the winter when it’s still dark outside isn’t going to be my favorite thing in the world.”

Transitioning from life in the suburbs to life in the middle of the city hasn’t been as difficult as she expected. And the wide variety of people she’s already encountered on Georgia State’s campus, she says, has been more than worth it. “Norcross was a really good place for me to grow up, and where I lived was a really safe community, but my classes weren’t very diverse there,” she explains. “Here, they’ve been a lot more diversity— for example, the person sitting next to me in chemistry is from Colombia. Diversity of both people and ideas is so prevalent here — I didn’t realize all the different backgrounds students came from. It’s been eye-opening for me.”

One thing that’s made the transition to college life easier is being part of the close-knit community of the Honors College. Maya lives in a dorm room with two other Presidential Scholars and a Berner Scholar, which she says has really helped her feel at home on campus. “I wouldn’t have come here if it was just a commuter school,” she says.

The one drawback to attending college in a major urban center, she says, is not having a lot of grass on campus. But she’s managed to get some grass under her feet a different way — by taking the field at the Georgia Dome with Georgia State’s color guard.

“I was looking for a school that had a color guard as part of the marching band program, and my high school instructor said they had a good program here,” Maya says. “We had a week of band camp before classes started, so I got on campus a little early, I got to know the area, and I got to meet people before classes started. That made the transition to college life so much easier, and it made me feel like I had a purpose. I couldn’t be happier to be a member of the GSU color guard.”

 

Previous 2013 Presidential Scholars: Wilson WitherspoonSamuel Hanks