Quarantine has provided many with time to be productive, but perhaps none more than Darya Khani ’17, who has been studying for the MCAT for the past several months. A Presidential Leadership Scholar at the University of Georgia, she is majoring in biology pre-med and plans to work in health care.
Even for someone with medical knowledge, the pandemic still came as a shock to Darya.
“This has been a time to reset your mind and really think about your well-being and safety,” she said.
It has also served as new material to be studied. For example, in Darya’s biochemistry class in the spring 2020 semester, students reviewed many COVID-19 case studies.
“It’s so important for teachers to recognize that everything learned in the classroom has to be applied,” she said.
Darya has enjoyed opportunities to apply her knowledge in hospital work, most recently with research in pulmonology and allergy medicine at Emory University’s Division of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine under the leadership of Dr. David Guidot. In February 2020, she attended a conference with the Southern Society of Clinical Investigation (SSCI) in New Orleans, where she received a Student Research Award from the American Federation for Medical Research and the SSCI.
Darya keeps a full schedule with a variety of activities at UGA. She serves as the Student Government Association’s director of sustainability and is a UGA involvement ambassador. She is a UGA Health Center ambassador, and a member of the American Medical Student Association and the Persian Student Union.
Her work with SGA has taken a new direction in recent days as she and fellow students work directly with the school administrations on issues of equality.
“Every Bulldog has a voice and we want to elevate everyone’s voice,” Darya said. “Inequalities are not chosen.”
An initiative she is spearheading as director of sustainability supports students who seek to continue their studies post-undergrad. As Darya has become aware, the study books for the MCAT, LSAT and other exams are costly. She plans to start a library where students can share these materials free of cost.
Her busy schedule is a carry-over from her days at HIES where she was a member of National Honor Society and History National Honor Society, an orchestra violinist, president of the Student Diversity Leadership Council and head mentor of Girl Talk. Darya was named Ron Bell Inspirational Leader of the Year by GirlTalk in 2017. She also played varsity soccer and ran varsity cross-country. Darya was an Alpha-Omega graduate.
“All my extracurriculars were so important to me at HIES,” Darya said. “I got to know a lot of people I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Heading into her senior year of college still surrounded by the pandemic has given Darya more food for thought. She is considering taking a gap year after graduating and then applying to medical school.
“This is a time to think about change,” she said. “It’s a crazy time but these obstacles can’t be a stopping point. We have to make do with what we have.”