Friday Feature with Middlebury's Kisha Kalra

Friday Feature with Middlebury's Kisha Kalra

The NESCAC is brimming with talented student-athletes and the "Friday Feature" is a way for fans to get to know them throughout the academic year. The conference introduces Middlebury's Kisha Kalra, a women's track & field student-athlete who aspires to bring improved medicine to underprivileged areas as a physician.

Kisha Kalra Kisha Kalra, Middlebury College
Senior, Women's Track & Field
Natick, Mass./Natick High School
Major: Neuroscience
Minor: Global Health

Why did you choose to attend Middlebury?
My high school track coach first introduced me to Middlebury because he thought it would be a great fit for me as a student-athlete. I fell in love with the school on my first visit. Everyone I met was so friendly and the classes I attended seemed fascinating. Getting to see the sunset over the mountains really sealed the deal!

Why did you choose to be a Division III student-athlete?

I’ve been running track since I was in sixth grade, and it has truly become a passion of mine. By my junior year in high school, I knew I was not yet ready to give up competitive running. At the same time, however, I did not want athletics to dictate my whole college experience. As a DIII student-athlete, I didn’t have to choose between athletics and academics—it was the perfect balance for me.

What is your dream job/career? Why?
My dream job is to be a physician working in underprivileged areas where medical access is limited. I have wanted to build a career helping others as a doctor since I was in high school. Though frightening, the fact that there is still so much progress yet to be made in the medical world has motivated me on my journey.

Which academic/extracurricular/community service project that you have been a part of has been the most rewarding? Why?
Throughout the academic year, I volunteer at a local warming shelter called the Middlebury Charter House Coalition. Having the opportunity to interact with people from all walks of life and give back to the community has been especially rewarding for me.

What has been your favorite class outside of your major? Why?
Last semester, I took "Politics of Reproduction" in the Gender Sexuality and Feminist Studies (GSFS) Department. Rather than just exploring the biological/scientific side of reproduction as I have been used to, I learned about the social and political context as well. Not only did this class make me a more informed citizen, but it was also highly relevant to our current political climate.

What internships/research projects have you participated in? What did you learn from these experiences?
I work in a neuroscience lab on campus where we explore the processes of learning and memory. Specifically, we want to find out how the brain energetically supports learning. Our big question is what are the consequences of learning, and how might this relate to such diseases as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. By working in a lab, I have learned that science is messy, but by wrestling through the data you can get some pretty amazing results.

What has been the most interesting part of your major so far?
The most interesting part of a Neuroscience major is how interdisciplinary it is. This major combines the hard sciences with humanities, so I feel like I have learned about the brain from a molecular, social, and philosophical level.

What is the greatest lesson you have learned from being a student-athlete?
Being a student-athlete has taught me just how far a positive attitude can take you. There have been times either on the track or in the classroom where I have felt defeated or lost. Since track is an individual-based sport, it is easy for this type of self-doubt to get in your head and bring your performance down. When I keep a positive attitude and focus on the things I am proud of rather than what I did wrong, I find I perform better and enjoy myself a lot more. Practicing this way of thinking has been useful in a classroom setting as well.

What advice would you give to yourself as a high school first year?
I would remind myself that as busy as you may feel at times, you’re never too busy to have a moment for fun. I think at a school like Middlebury it is easy to get caught up in the stresses of academics, athletics, and/or extracurricular activities. However, you will burn out if you don’t take a moment to enjoy yourself. I would advise myself to not get too caught up in daily tasks and take time to smell the roses every once in a while.