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Home » Discover Rackham » Meet the Bloggers: Laura Fernandes

Coming to the U.S. for the very first time from India was exciting. I had a sheltered childhood growing up in Goa, one of the tiniest states in India colonized by the Portuguese up until 1961. This information has been one of the best icebreakers in the U.S. – “tell me about your name” or “is that your English name” or “you must be from Goa!” The recipient of the last remark often gets a hug. It’s funny but your name can give away so much information in India; you can make a fair guess of the state, the religion and languages spoken by the individual.

I worked as a SAS programmer analyzing clinical trial data for GSK, a pharmaceutical company based in the U.S. and U.K. having an R&D unit in Bangalore, India. The sheer amount of work involved in designing, planning, executing before actually analyzing and reporting a study motivated me to apply to Ph.D. programs in biostatistics. I completed my master’s and am now working towards the completion of my Ph.D. For my thesis am currently working on designing methods for adaptive phase I clinical trials in oncology.

It’s been four years in Ann Arbor (AA) but I still remember my first days on the campus at U-M, scrambling between different orientations in the first week – as a graduate student there were multiple events to attend and most provided free food for showing up! The taste fest on Palmer fields, another one at the Trotter center, picnics organized by Rackham, the International Center and welcome events at the church group, I had a busy social calendar.

One of the beautiful things to do in the first few months is to canoe/kayak down the Huron River from Argo Park before it closes in October for the winter. The numerous places to eat in AA offer some of the best ethnic cuisines at student priced fares. And the sprawling coffee shops around the town provide a place to spend hours completing a report, finishing your homework, surfing the internet or catching up with a friend all over a cup of coffee!

It’s amazing how the experiences in the first few weeks define our opinion of the place, I welcome you to U-M and hope your experience of being at this university is full of fun and excitement.