Undergraduate Uncovers Strong Community and Support System at UArizona

Nov. 14, 2023

Adiba is in pursuit of her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and Bachelor of Arts in German Studies

UArizona student Adiba sits outside

When Adiba first stepped on the University of Arizona campus, she was reminded of her childhood home growing up in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The first 10 years of her life she grew up in a three-story red brick home built by her grandfather and the site of the university’s bricked buildings instantly helped her feel more comfortable. “The campus feels very close to home in that sense,” she said.

Encouraged by her parents to dream big, Adiba always knew she would pursue a higher education abroad. Located in the United States and offering promising scholarships in addition to multiple research opportunities, UArizona was the perfect place for Adiba to continue her educational journey.

Though starting university in a new country can be intimidating, the campus community has helped make her transition into college much easier. As first-year engineering student, Adiba was invited to apply for the Engineering Leadership Community (ELC). This cohort of peers attend classes together, receive guidance from a faculty member, pursue social networking among the UA engineering community and explore engineering professions. This communal experience helped ease Adiba’s assimilation into university life.

People in the ELC are so supportive, so nice. Since we are all pretty much more or less in the same math courses, same physics courses, same engineering courses, we help each other by forming study groups…and going on field trips are just more opportunities to bond together,” Adiba said.

UArizona student Adiba sits outside on grass with a friend.

Members of the ELC are also assigned a peer mentor to guide them through their first year at university. Adiba’s mentor, Abby, greeted her with a warm hug, showed her around the campus and helped her become familiar with her new surroundings. The peer mentoring aspect of the ELC was extremely valuable to Adiba: “If there were things that I had issues with or things I had problems with, Abby was there. She would just check up on us and give advice whenever we needed it.”  

Adiba found another community in Dr. Philipp Gutruf’s lab. Dr. Gutruf is an Assistant Professor in the Biomedical Engineering Department and Craig M. Berge Faculty Fellow. Adiba discovered his work while she was researching the biomedical engineering department after she was accepted to the university. She reached out to learn how she could become involved and was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Gutruf connected with her right away. After corresponding over the summer, Adiba followed up when she was sure she wanted to make biomedical engineering her major. Her initiative and persistence paid off and she was able to obtain a position in the lab. She finds the work rewarding and fun.

 “We work with implant tables, wireless, and battery-free tools that you can put inside the body, and it can do different things like monitor bone health or modify your genetics,” Adiba said. “The main focus of the lab is to make biomedical devices compact, battery-free, and wireless so they don’t need to be charged constantly.”    

According to Adiba, the lab is an extremely supportive environment, and that sense of community is echoed in her other campus interactions. “I’m doing engineering and German, so I love both of my departments here,” she said. “In the German studies department, the community feeling is great because it is a really small department. Everyone knows each other. I know all the professors. I know all the faculty and many of the alumni because there have been events where we all socialize and get together.” Other resources available on campus have also contributed to her sense of well-being during her first year.

“Whenever you are struggling, just reach out to someone to say that you are struggling, and everyone is willing to help. I can talk to my RA from my dorm. I can talk to my peer mentor. I can just even go to Think Tank and they have peer academic coaches,” Adiba said. “People are always uplifting each other. Motivating you as you go along on your college journey. It is really tough to stay always motivated, but if you just know where and who to ask for help from, it turns out to be great.”

UArizona Adiba sitting for an interview with Arizona International

Outside of life on campus, Adiba has discovered many things she loves about living in Tucson. She finds peace in the panorama of mountains that surround the city and enjoys the many types of cacti are indigenous to the Southwest. The warm weather reminds her of home, and she appreciates the lack of snow. According to Adiba, Tucson also has the best views and sunsets. “Each day there is a new sunset and there are new colors,” she said. “Some days the sunsets are purple and pink. On the other days they are bright yellow and red.” Although there aren’t many places to find Bangladeshi food, as an UNESCO City of Gastronomy, Tucson has a lot diversity when it comes to finding a good meal. Not only is there a lot of great Mexican food, but she encourages others to “venture out and try new restaurants.”

Though now only a sophomore, Adiba has already begun mapping her future. After completing her undergrad, she hopes to spend some time working in the biomedical industry before returning to school for her master's and ultimately, her doctorate.

“As a biomedical engineer, I hope to bring innovation and new methods of treatment - new treatments for diseases or just to modify the existing treatments.”