While many students tend to direct their studies toward one of two ways — STEM or arts and humanities — Meghana Tummala said she identifies as a mix of both.
Upon entering her freshman year at the University of Michigan, she didn’t know what area of study to pursue. She was interested in art and design as well as physics and math.
After exploring several fields, she decided to declare a major in architecture and join the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.
“I think I chose architecture primarily because it’s this subject that can warp into whatever you’re interested in, and it also brings in different disciplines all under one roof,” Tummala said. “I really enjoy the conceptual thinking and the theory, along with the design components that are involved with the curriculum.”
During her junior year, Tummala noticed university travel opportunities that had been postponed due to the pandemic. After evaluating the programs, Tummala decided to participate in a weeklong architecture program in Mexico City.
“I chose the Mexico City program, one, because I wanted to take advantage of my time here at the university and be involved in a study abroad opportunity,” Tummala said. “But two, I really enjoyed the topic that the course was about.
“It seemed like a mix of things that I was interested in, which is architecture and then it also had this element of sustainability and sustainable design, which is something that I’ve been exploring through student organizations here at the university.”
During the trip, Tummala explored how Mexico City was handling the country’s current problems with water and how that presented itself through architecture. Tummala sketched observational drawings of the architectural sites they visited.
After returning from the trip, Tummala said she continued to draw and think Mexico City’s sustainability challenges.
The experience inspired Tummala to apply for the Raoul Wallenberg Fellowship, which provides $25,000 for an independent project of learning or exploration anywhere in the world during the year after graduation. In February, Tummala learned she won the fellowship.
Throughout her year in Mexico City, Tummala said she will better understand the city’s relationships with water and how experts in the field are working to address the problems. She will document her observations through drawings and sketches.
“With the study abroad trip, it was more observational in the way that we approached the city. But I hope that I am engaging more with the community members as well as experts in the field during the coming year,” Tummala said.
Upon completing the Wallenberg Fellowship, Tummala said she could see herself entering graduate school, remaining in Mexico, or returning to the United States to continue similar work.