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Kayli Ahuja
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Kayli Ahuja

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: Rock Island, Ill.

Majors: Psychology, communication studies

Minor: Women’s and gender studies

Activities: Mortar Board, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership honor society, Sigma Xi, Psi Chi psychology honor society, Augustana Symphony Orchestra, Viola Ensemble, Phi Beta Kappa

Internships: Texas Medical Center Summer Research Internship Program; Hand-in-Hand, a nonprofit that assists families with special needs; Robert Young Mental Health Center

Post-grad plans: Gap year followed by grad school

Why Augustana?

I loved the class sizes because they allow you to really get to know the other students and your professors. I looked at a few other schools similar to Augie, but ultimately it came down to the difference in the music departments. I knew the viola teacher here, Dr. Dakin, would be warm and supportive. Plus the viola section here already felt like a family. That sealed the deal for me.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

Definitely not! I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to major in, let alone where I would be when I graduated. I’ve learned and grown in more ways than I thought I would.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

I wouldn’t be where I am now without the support of my family, friends and professors. They motivate me to push myself and do things that are outside of my comfort zone.

Peak experience?

My study abroad trips were truly amazing experiences. I went to Guatemala during spring break of my junior year, and I went to India during spring break of this year. As someone who works with children and adolescents, the Guatemala trip was invaluable because it taught me about child development in challenging circumstances. The India trip was also meaningful to me because it gave me the chance to visit and learn about the country where my grandparents grew up.

What surprised you?

I’m capable of a lot more than I think I am.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to go on the Guatemala study abroad trip.

What will you miss the most?

I’ll miss the people, both students and faculty—everyone in the Augie Bubble is so encouraging.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Knowing when you need help is a strength, not a weakness. You’re here to learn. No one will expect you to have everything all figured out.

“Kayli and I first met when she was pursuing an Honors project interrogating the phenomenon of coerced confessions during police investigations. Since then I have had the privilege of watching her amazing time at Augustana—in coursework, traveling through Guatemala, attending conferences, presenting at conferences. She is a sweet force, a strong young woman whose independent work is graduate-school worthy. I'm so proud that Kayli represents Augustana, as a person and as an academic.”

– Dr. Sharon Varallo, professor, communication studies