After I graduated from Duluth East to attend the University of Minnesota Rochester in 2017, I was excited for the opportunities ahead of me. I have wanted to be a doctor for as long as I can remember, so attending a university across the street from the Mayo Clinic was a perfect fit.

I am currently in my third year of pursuing a bachelor of science degree in health sciences while fulfilling the rigorous prerequisites for medical school. Ahead of me is the daunting Medical College Admission Test, or MCAT. Between classes and my dedicated studying, I will be more than prepared to succeed in the MCAT next year. For this, I have Minnesota Rochester to thank.

The tight-knit community, dedication to learning, research opportunities, and community engagement at the school has not only been academically beneficial but has also made me the well-rounded candidate sought by medical schools. At just over 850 students, the small campus population at Minnesota Rochester has allowed me the opportunity to develop close relationships with my peers and faculty.

In the fall of 2019, I received funding for a research grant I wrote through the University of Minnesota to conduct public-health research alongside faculty member Kristen Osiecki. I am currently researching industrial churning in Chicago and the negative health effects industrial pollution has on low-income and minority communities in industrial areas.

I have also volunteered and collaborated with The Village Community Garden in Rochester. The Village is a grassroots response to food insecurity, specifically for people who come from different communities and cultures and who are unable to find the produce they are used to in a typical American grocery store. I have been invited to be a panelist at the Internationalizing Teaching and Learning conference in the Twin Cities this month for my work with The Village.

It’s not only my hard work but also the excellence offered by the University of Minnesota Rochester that has allowed me to succeed. As the current student body president, I am honored to fiercely advocate for the students I serve.

However, my advocacy goes beyond the walls of my school; I want all people who desire to continue their education through the University of Minnesota to be able to do so.

Investing in the U of M is crucial to keeping higher education affordable so that students like me can continue to receive the education and opportunities I have.

As lawmakers make funding decisions regarding higher education this session of the Minnesota Legislature, it is imperative they clearly prioritize funding for the University of Minnesota. State funding will help keep tuition affordable, leading to more U of M graduates and a stronger Minnesota.

Chandi Katoch graduated from Duluth East in 2017 and is a third-year student at the University of Minnesota Rochester.