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Priya Donti ’15


THREE ACTORS STAND IN A ROW, AND A REFEREE prompts the audience to suggest a relationship, a location and a time period. “Begin!” the referee says, and the first two actors act out a scene using the suggested relationship as a prompt. Ten, the referee com- mands, “Pan right” or “Pan left,” and the third actor replaces one of the first two. Actor No. 3 repeats the last line of the prior scene and begins a new scene using one of the other two topics. Te referee calls “Pan left” or “Pan right” throughout the game, and the actors switch, each unique pair of actors revisiting the same scene they acted out before. Tis game is a popular one for the students who are members of


DUCK!, HMC’s improvisational club. Priya Donti ’15, who joined the club this year, says, “It demonstrates the difficulties and rewards of being in a situation where you’re not sure what’s going on.” Te exercise is not a problem, though,


for Donti, who is learning to master the classroom as well as the stage. Te North Andover, Mass., native is already making a name for herself. She received the Jean and Joseph Platt Freshman Prize, which honors first-year students who exhibit academic excellence and who contribute substantially to the College community. Both academics and extracurricular activities play substantial roles in her life. Just a sophomore, Donti has yet to choose a major, but has wasted


no time investigating her options. She learned more about computer science by participating in a summer research project led by Profes- sor Elizabeth Sweedyk and supported by a recent National Science Foundation grant. Te program challenges HMC computer science students to develop educational games based upon learning objectives set by real-world customers: middle-school social studies teachers. Teir students test the games and provide feedback. “We take games made during the previous two semesters, modify


them and user-test them. We then incorporate suggestions,” says Donti. “One of my favorites is a game about energy and energy transfer, a Mario-Brothers-style game with a dragon protagonist.” Tis summer she hopes to continue her investigation of computer


to be in an environment where people


It’s great


are hardworking but not cutthroat.


22 Har vey Mudd College FALL/WINTER 2012


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science or one of her other top academic interests, chemistry and mathematics. “I’m particularly interested in environmental applica- tions, such as research in fuels, energy, etc. Labs and team research are also super fun.” Tis theme of many interests is also prevalent in Donti’s pastimes.


She’s worked as a tutor for much of her life, beginning with her mother’s Kumon tutoring franchise. She now tutors for the HMC Writing Center, Homework Hotline and Science Bus, the latter of which she co-leads. Donti, a classically trained singer, has performed on the Claremont Concert Choir and is a member of Midnight Echo, an a capella group. She also is a member of Engineers for a Sustainable World/Mudders Organizing for Sustainability Solutions. One of her strategies for balancing it all is to focus on enjoying


each activity and maintaining close connections, which, she says, is easy at Mudd. “It’s great to be in an environment where people are hardworking but not cutthroat.”


My balance tips: Be happy, make time for people and close con- nections and have fun! It’s so important for emotional well-being.


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