Kirthi Rao

Profile Type
International Affairs
Kirthi Rao


As a pre-med student, I started off my undergraduate degree as a Chemistry major. While I loved my classes, I soon learned that the nature of my career track would require me to spend the rest of my education broadening my STEM undergraduate education. In my shadowing experiences, I encountered a neurosurgeon who pulled me aside to offer me advice. He told me he was actually pursuing an MBA by attending evening classes while performing surgeries in the morning. The surgeon said that he’d always wanted to study business but couldn’t find the time to do it earlier once he’d committed to medicine. “If you want to study any of your other interests, whether it be history, politics, or business, your undergrad is the time to do it,” he told me. Those words had a deep impact. It came at the time when I was really considering whether or not medicine would be right for me. If I continued, I would regret not studying my other interests. If I decided against medicine, what would I do instead? So after three years of Chemistry, I switched my major to International Affairs while remaining pre-med. The Sam Nunn School offered classes that suited my interests, like US Foreign Policy, but also offered other courses that gave students a competitive edge, such as statistics based classes and research-based classes. This sort of blend of Georgia Tech’s “tech” with the traditional politics courses made switching my major exciting and promising.


To be honest, in times of doubt I consider if I should’ve stayed with the Chemistry department. After all, I was just a few semesters away from earning my degree. However, I think making the switch and attending the Nunn School was the right decision in the end. The welcoming community of undergraduates and faculty was a refreshing difference from what I’d experienced before. The culture at the Sam Nunn School is one of the main reasons I’m satisfied with my switch. Not only was the neurosurgeon’s advice compelling, but I was also feeling miserable before. Tech has a reputation for depressing academic environments, but the Sam Nunn School’s’ is far sunnier.


I was really surprised to find out how much in terms of resources that the Sam Nunn School has to offer! The advising office sends out a Weekly Digest every Thursday full of internships, jobs, and Careerbuzz job links. I applied to several internships that were posted on there and explored the job links. Even if I wasn’t qualified for the jobs, it was helpful to see all the possible career opportunities available to International Affairs majors. I thought prospects were limited, but I found it was just the opposite.

The undergraduate advisor, Stephanie Jackson, is incredibly kind and helpful when it comes to talking about my goals and planning out everything. My previous advisor had been curt and I’d always felt a lot worse going out than in. I think the advising office at the Sam Nunn School is so helpful and receptive to students.


I think students should first seriously consider what they want to get out of an undergraduate degree and what they may want to pursue in the future. If you’re a student in STEM and want to add a minor, the Sam Nunn School has a lot of diverse minors to pick from and it could give STEM majors a different angle to set them apart. If you’re a high school senior about to join Tech and are not really sure what you want to do, take a few INTA classes with your freshmen coursework and test the waters. I definitely recommend the Sam Nunn School to everyone!