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A Fresh Start

Meet the Class of 2022

By Sala Levin ’10

Fresh Start

John T. Consoli

John T. Consoli

Musicians, scientists, polyglots: The incoming first-year class at the University of Maryland has it all. More than 34,000 students applied to Maryland this year, and this week, new students arrive on campus, ready for four fearless years. Meet a few of the new Terps.


The FIRST Robotics World Championship wasn’t on Kieran Barvenik’s mind when he, his father and a few friends started a robotics team five years ago to build robots out of PVC pipes. But Barvenik, of Catonsville, Md., and his team have now competed three times against teams from China, India, Romania and other countries. Barvenik’s team, Mechanical Paradox Cubed, has for two years in a row placed in the top six out of over 6,000 teams, building robots that can move across an arena with speed and agility, and pick up and organize specific objects. Closer to home, they’ve won the Inspire Award twice at the Maryland state championship, and Barvenik hopes to use his robotics experience as he pursues a degree in mechanical engineering.


MaKayla Etheredge has an in vogue way of preserving the planet: she resells clothes through her business, Euphonious Clothing, using the peer-to-peer shopping app Depop. Sourcing the clothes from vintage stores, thrift stores and her own wardrobe, Etheredge, of Waldorf, Md., combines her passions for photography, business and fashion to keep the threads out of landfills. Although Euphonious Clothing began simply as a productive way to pass time, Etheredge says it’s her way of contributing to “sustaining the earth and our natural environment.”


Joshua Goldberg suffered tech heartbreak as a tween when he discovered that his Kindle e-reader was incompatible with a special edition of Angry Birds he was desperate to play. So he did what any budding computer engineer with a hacking streak would do: He jailbroke the device to get the game to work. From there, the Pikesville, Md., native developed a hobby for Android coding, and now he “fixes” older phones so new updates can download, preventing the devices from becoming obsolete within a few years of purchase. He plans to study computer engineering at Maryland so he can expand his knowledge while keeping those bad piggies at bay.


Potomac, Md., native Jacob Maggid knows that adjusting to freshman year can be difficult, so the Robert H. Smith School of Business student set out to help his classmates with his mobile app “In the Loop.” What started as a basic college checklist turned into a full-blown freshman resource guide, thanks to Maggid’s work during a two-week business and entrepreneurship program at Maryland in the summer before his senior year. During the program, he fine-tuned the app, consulted with professors and pitched his idea to more than a dozen CEOs for their feedback and advice. But he’s not done yet. “At Maryland, I hope to join Startup Shell so I can continue to develop my app and, hopefully, launch it in the next few years.”


Most of us don’t put much thought into air conditioning beyond wondering how high (or low) we can crank it without irking coworkers or family members. But Tej Mehta looks at air conditioning from a different perspective. “If you were in a room full of computer servers, how could repositioning the AC impact cooling efficiency in the room?” he asks. While interning at Loyola University Maryland, Mehta helped construct a mobile air conditioning unit that cools more efficiently, keeps costs down and prevents servers from overheating. The experience, along with his high school engineering classes in Ellicott City, Md., made the A. James Clark School of Engineering seem like a natural fit. “Plus,” adds Mehta, “both of my parents went to Maryland, so I grew up a Terp.”


Before her junior year at Catonsville High School, Taneen Momeni packed up her cello—no easy feat—and went to Europe for a month, traveling from town to town with a band through the American Music Abroad program, which encourages educational and cultural exchange through music. “Most of the places I was going to I hadn’t been before,” says Momeni, who hopes to continue playing cello with the UMD Repertoire Orchestra while studying journalism. Academically, Momeni is looking forward to the opportunities for journalism internships that UMD’s proximity to Washington, D.C., provides.


Madeleine O’Connell, an elementary education major, has danced her way along the East Coast to share her Hellenistic pride. Her grandfather moved to the United States from Greece in the 1950s but made sure his children, and now his grandchildren, remained in touch with their roots. Since she was a young girl, O’Connell, of Arnold, Md., has dressed in intricate costumes and competed with her dance group the Aegeans. Much like the art form she loves, matriculation at Maryland is in keeping with tradition; both of her parents are proud Terps, and her older sister recently graduated. “Maryland is my dream school because it is part of my history,” she says.


When Jared Schwartz was elected head of community service in his chapter of the national Jewish youth group BBYO, he wanted to do more with the chapter’s dedicated cause, mental health. “Mental illness has personally affected a lot of us in several ways and people we know in several ways,” says Schwartz of his fellow chapter members. Partnering with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Schwartz and his chapter participated in the NAMI walk in Baltimore, raising money for the organization. At Maryland, Olney, Md., native Schwartz plans on studying engineering and is excited for the athletics and academics a school like UMD can offer.


As a rising high school senior at James H. Blake High School in Silver Spring, Md., Ambika Sikri spent her summer at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Lab, using a web application called Dagger to help create a system to color-code hospital patients’ data according to urgency of their medical needs. The experience convinced Sikri, who is entering the Honors College’s Advanced Cybersecurity Experience for Students (ACES) living-learning program, to study computer science in college. “I was a little apprehensive about if I’d enjoy sitting behind a computer all day not being able to see if I was making a difference somewhere,” Sikri says. “But through that experience I realized computer scientists and data scientists could, because these health models would actually impact the way people get treatment in hospitals.”


Anjali Talasila took part in a national French competition meant for juniors during her sophomore year at Atholton High School in Columbia, Md. Quelle surprise—she won bronze in the computer-based test. At Maryland, she hopes to try Spanish or another language, but it’s not just in languages that Talasila excels. For two summers, she worked in the Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins, locating in colon and pancreatic tissue pieces of DNA called retrotransposons that can insert themselves in between other genes. “There was so much troubleshooting going on,” Talasila says. “I didn’t really think about that part of science before I came in—I thought you just come in and do the experiment and it works. It was nice to see how much effort and how much you have to change to get the result you want.”


Jaiaditya “Jai” Upadhyay, from Gaithersburg, Md., connected with his family’s Indian heritage during high school by serving as master of ceremonies for a local Indian cultural awareness festival. Working with that year’s theme of rivers, Upadhyay led the program, introducing singers, dancers, artists and other performers to an audience of some 150 to 200 people. At Maryland, he’ll be in the Honors College’s Design Cultures & Creativity program, and plans on studying computer science. “I felt like I’d be able to explore any academic interest I have, whether through an internship or research opportunity or maybe a minor or additional major,” says Upadhyay, whose mother and sister are also Terps.

Maryland Today is produced by the Office of Marketing and Communications for the University of Maryland community on weekdays during the academic year, except for university holidays.