With the amount of detailed research, extracurricular activities, and school events she’s been involved in, you’d think cell and molecular biology major Amoolya Vayalapalli was at least a junior. But no—she’s still in her freshman year. With an outgoing personality and a laugh just waiting to light up the room, Amoolya is always burning to meet new people and try new things.
Amoolya is an active member in the Biology and Chemistry clubs at Augusta University and has participated in the Miss Augusta University pageant on campus. “It was my first time wearing makeup and heels, I’d never walked in heels before. It was really interesting. The girls there, they were so supportive, they were so fun and interesting to be with and hang out around. So, it was really fun!”
Perhaps most impressively, while still in high school, Amoolya published three research articles on using fMRI to understand body dysmorphia and anorexia. “We’re trying to analyze the brain patterns that cause these diseases. It’s really interesting because you get to see, oh, these things that manifest themselves as visual appearances, these psychological things, actually come from minute disturbances in the brain.” Her interest that started with her high school research has led her to decide that her heart truly lies in the field of psychiatry.
To better understand the field and why she wants to be a part of it, Amoolya currently interns at a psychiatry practice. “I get to see a lot of patients, and administer testing and stuff like that, and so I get to see the questionnaires that they have and how they scale these tests because there’s so much mathematical stuff and computations that they do. I think it’s a cool field.” Her mom originally inspired her to consider psychiatry. “My mom, she’s a psychiatrist. She’s the main reason I want to become one.” Amoolya hopes that her involvement in the BS/MD program at Augusta University will help her achieve her goals. “This program I’m in, the seven-year med program, it’s helped me hold what I love so much more closely to my chest.”
For fun, Amoolya loves Indian classical dance, violin, and singing. She and her roommate have maintained an Instagram account dedicated to the beauties of Indian dance. “We choreograph things and make short videos so everyone can see it. We made one for Valentine’s day, one for Christmas, all the major holidays! We try to do one every month, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but we’ll see.” She’s danced her entire life, and done violin since 7th grade. “I’m so lucky to have amazing teachers, and my parents have been so supportive. They’ve let me try so many different things, so many different fields, it really takes a lot—hats off to them.”
In this encouragement from her parents, her teachers, and her professors, Amoolya considers herself extremely lucky. “I’ve made a whole group of supportive teachers, counselors, and if I need help, I can just ask them anytime. I’m so lucky. I’m so lucky. Everything I have, I’ve had so many opportunities in my life that I don’t think others have had, and I just don’t know how to express how grateful I am.”
For now, Amoolya will use her drive to succeed to achieve her undergraduate goals, and eventually pursue her passion. “I get to go to Medical College of Georgia! I’m living in Oak Hall, and so I get to see my goal, my vision, in direct sight through my window! So, it’s great.”