My name is Venkat Ramana Reddy Vootukuri and I am a graduate student pursuing my my masters degree in the civil engineering. My path to the USA from India was full of difficult hurdles to over-come. Some of the hurdles are being away from home, passing my exams, obtaining my visa, and my academic scholarship. After finishing my bachelors degree, my dream of pursuing my graduate degree in the United States was within reach.
That being said, I still had several tests that I had to complete. A couple of the tests were my GRE and English Proficiency test. When I finally took my GRE, I was able to obtain a good score and finish in the 93rd percentile. I still had to take an English Proficiency test. Thankfully after getting my grade back, I had obtained a sufficient score. As soon as I finished my GRE and IELTS exams, I started applying for universities. The three that I chose were SUNY Buffalo in New York, University of Arkansas Fayetteville, and SIUC. I chose SIUC and thankfully I was able to obtain a 4.0 in my first semester.
The hardest hurdle for me would have to have been leaving my family behind again. Since about the age of 9, I’ve been out of my house preparing for school. To be able to go back and see my mom was amazing. The six months that I was blessed with to stay with my mom was surreal, I stayed with her as much as I possibly could, she means the world to me. Unfortunately though, since everything happened so fast, I didn’t get to say goodbye to all my friends and family. After my first semester at SIUC, I saw a poster in the hall about the LDP. I did some research and made the decision to try and join the program. After interviewing with Dr. DeRuntz, he invited me to come out and join him and his team for Team Week. While at Team Week, I met many people, though the two that stand out the most to me are Zack and Jessica. Zack had a very welcoming attitude towards new students, and made me feel invited, and Jess always encouraged me to continue on through the difficult times. From that point, I knew that these people weren’t people…they were my friends. It is an absolute pleasure to work with the members of the LDP, and I really want to thank Dr. DeRuntz for giving me the opportunity to make new friends.