Timothy M. Smith Award – Kaushal Vaddiraj

(Photo courtesy of Anton Croos.)
(Sri Lankan elephants. Photo courtesy of Anton Croos.)

Seven years ago, I arrived at UT as a freshman international student, having made the decision to come to an unfamiliar country and a vastly different educational setting without so much as even setting foot on campus. That decision was made easier in no small part due to the opportunities available through the Honors Program. The experiences available through the Honors Program – meeting highly motivated peers, being part of engaging organizations such as the Honors Council, peer reviewing scholarly work through Respondez!, and presenting my research at collegiate honors conferences – represent the best of what is available at The University of Tampa. These experiences have been pivotal in what opportunities I received once out of UT and what choices I have been able make since.

In my sophomore year, I applied for the Timothy M. Smith ‘Inspiration through Exploration’ award in the hopes of traveling to Sri Lanka to work with elephants and teach underprivileged children. I was able to do just that and immerse myself in Sri Lankan culture. The month long trip taught me so many valuable lessons in community building, leadership, conservation, and a myriad of life lessons from the Sri Lankan families who hosted me around the country.

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