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The University of Texas at Austin

Shyam Sivasankar

It's All Here

I chose to come to UT Austin because I absolutely loved Austin when I used to live here, and having the opportunity to come back and experience this city was an easy decision to make! This school also has the perfect balance—everyone says that this school is so big, but you honestly make it what it is. I saw the numerous opportunities to get involved, and this made the university not so daunting. I think this school can be the perfect fit for anyone—from hardcore football fans to vocal performance majors, it’s all here.

Supporting and Encouraging

Faculty and staff at the university have been supportive and encouraging. I can walk into an academic advising appointment devastated about the prospect of my future and walk out smiling while chatting with my advisor about what we think is going to happen in this week’s episode of "Lost."

Combining My Interests

I knew for a long time that I wanted to be a doctor, so biochemistry was a logical choice. However, in high school I got to take a trip to Europe, and I absolutely fell in love with art history; I found the perfect fit for combining my interests in the Plan II Honors program. Plan II offers me the opportunity to take classes that range from the History of American Medicine to Self and Society in Renaissance Culture—there’s no better program that allows me to combine my passions and prepare me for a career.

Shyam's tips on…


Find a couple of good places where you can get work done—a change of scenery always works for me.

Making friends

Put yourself out there. You’ll be surprised at the variety of people you can meet and eventually call your best friends.

Living on campus

I spent my first two years living on campus, and I highly recommend the convenience that comes with living on campus. On the other hand, living off campus gives you a greater sense of independence (buying groceries and fending for yourself, the numerous bills you have to deal with, etc.) and I love to cook! Living off campus has forced me to become familiar with Austin, and there’s never a dull moment when I’m at the house, where I live with my four best friends.

Transportation around campus

Learn to use the buses—they’re really quite an experience, and they're FREE!

What Plan II Honors Offers

Plan II Honors has given me exposure to the best professors this university has to offer. These professors don’t get paid extra to teach an honors program, and they do it because they really love their subjects, and they go the extra mile to really get to know their students. I have been able to walk into these professors’ offices and talk, not only about the course material, but also about everything under the sun: from their crazy antics during their college years to where their current research and travels are taking them. I highly recommend Plan II for the great classes it offers, the close-knit community it fosters, and the incredible faculty you get exposed to.

Shyam Sivasankar

Teach for America

I plan on attending medical school, but through my involvement at various schools around the area, my career path has been tweaked. The experiences I’ve had at Eastside Memorial High and KIPP Austin College Prep motivated me to apply for and get accepted to Teach for America, and hopefully, I will be able to pursue this opportunity before medical school. UT Austin provided me an avenue to get involved in local high schools and middle schools in Austin, and without this exposure, I would have never thought of applying to Teach for America before attending medical school.

Learning about Roman Culture…in Rome

This past summer I participated in the Plan II study abroad in Rome. It was totally different than anything that I’d done before. I learned about Roman culture firsthand, at museums and various historical sites, and not once in a regular classroom! I spent some time at an archeological dig (which made some pretty impressive discoveries), enjoyed the luxury of trying out a new gelato flavor every day, and walked past the Trevi Fountain every day! The whole journey allowed me to encounter the problems that face preservation and history in modern day and really opened my eyes to a whole new culture. I never thought I would have been able to study abroad, but with all the resources UT Austin has to offer, this was no problem and I highly recommend this experience to anyone!

Managing Your Time

I have loved getting involved with the various aspects of the campus—from Texas Blazers to working in admissions with Plan II. With all these commitments, however, I’ve really had to learn how to manage my time. UT Austin has taught me how to balance all my extracurricular commitments with academics and my social life. Balance is something that is sorely lacking in today’s highly motivated and driven society, and I am thankful that my experiences at UT Austin have really shown me how to find and hold on to this equilibrium. Well-rounded people are the ones who really make a difference in society, and by fostering an environment that produces so many of them, UT Austin is truly remarkable and lives up to its motto: “What starts here changes the world.”

More about Shyam

Personal background

  • I was born in Singapore.
  • I have lived in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Austin, Texas and Southlake, Texas.
  • My dad went to graduate school at UT Austin.

Favorite experience

Being on the Jumbotron at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium—twice!

What I do with my spare time

I love to play board games, so a whole bunch of my friends and I get together and have some wild game nights playing Scattergories, Settlers of Catan, Cranium, Clue, Scrabble, and Apples to Apples.


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Updated Tue, 2011-04-12 15:43 | Top

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Austin, TX 78713-8058

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