5/17/2012 Chris Karlesky

Tanya Arora ’12: Research, Teamwork Highlight F&M Experience

A profile of Tanya Arora ’12 is Part IV of “Faces of the Class of 2012,” a series on the academic and extracurricular interests of graduating seniors.

  • Tanya Arora '12 Tanya Arora ’12 received honors for her work in the classroom and sportsmanship on the squash court. (Photo by Tim Brixius)

Hometown: Mumbai, India
Academic Major: Psychology major; French minor

Looking back on her four years at Franklin & Marshall College, Tanya Arora ’12 returns to several themes that helped define her college experience:

“Team dynamic.”

“Working one-on-one with faculty.”

“Professors pushing me to do better.”

It was exactly the type of experience Arora, a native of Mumbai, sought when she applied to college in the United States. “I always liked the idea of a small liberal arts college, and the rigors of the classroom.”

Arora decided on F&M in part because of its squash program. A lifelong squash player, she said the team gave her an immediate support group and an opportunity to develop leadership skills. Arora is especially proud of the team’s sportsmanship; in February 2012, the Diplomats received the Chafee Award for Sportsmanship at the College Squash Association Kurtz Cup in Boston.

“Our team has come a long way over the past four years,” said Arora, who won F&M’s 2012 Student Athlete Advisory Committee Sportsmanship Award. “We support each other on and off the court. Other teams voted on the Chaffee Award. Seeing us come together and winning this award was such a significant accomplishment.”

Arora also received many honors for her work in the classroom. In addition to membership in several honor societies, she won the Sarah A. Aronoff Award in Psychology; the Harry L. Butler Prize for Study in France; the Charles J.G. Mayaud Travel Grant; and a Dana Scholarship for her academic promise, leadership and good character.

A magna cum laude graduate, Arora earned honors for her independent research project titled “Self-Complexity and Working Professionals: Managing Job Stress in a Dynamic Work Place.” The work resulted from her collaborative research with Assistant Professor of Psychology Megan Knowles.

“I’ve always had an interest in psychology, and came to F&M with an interest in development,” Arora said. “Professor Knowles gave me enough room to work independently but also pushed me to think about bigger questions.”

Arora also conducted two other independent projects during her senior year, including one with Associate Professor of Psychology Jack Heller on attitude change. “We looked at television commercials to determine what makes them stand out and change people’s attitudes. Professor Heller pushed me to come up with my own point of view.”

She hopes her third independent project, completed under the direction of Assistant Professor of Organization Studies Trex Proffitt, will benefit future F&M students. By working with Beth Throne ’95, F&M’s associate vice president for student and postgraduate development, Arora developed a project to highlight “the value of a liberal arts education.”

“We designed a tool to help students visiting the F&M website see what alumni are doing from any academic major,” Arora said. “We thought it would help students make more informed choices in selecting their own majors, and it could also help (the Office of) Admission and alumni networking. It’s a great way to give back to F&M.”

Arora has accepted a job in corporate recruiting with Teach For India, a network of outstanding college graduates and young professionals in India who teach full time in low-income schools for two years. Looking back on her experience at F&M, she is thankful for the balance of teamwork and individual attention that defined her college experience.

“Being part of the squash team is a big part of me, and the individual experience is also significant,” Arora said. “Working with faculty one-on-one helped me push myself to a place I didn’t know I could go. Professors know your potential, and how much they can push you. They’re not stopping at ‘good.’ They want you to be the best.”

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