From India to Nebraska: UNL student makes Lincoln home


Venkat Kolli
Age: 28
Home: Hyderabad, India
Major: Chemistry
Hobbies: Playing cricket, hanging out with friends, working in the chemistry lab
Favorite saying: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Gandhi


Venkat Kolli came to America with the hopes of one day making his country a better place.

“I want to run a pharmaceutical company and create medicine that is affordable for everyone,” he said. “In India the politics are all corrupt at even the lowest level so if you want to make a difference you have to do it in other places.”

Growing up in Hyderabad, India, Kolli knew that if he wanted to pursue a career in the field of science, he would have to go to school in the United States. Many children in India attend schools in other countries.

“I had heard good things about the schools in America and knew they had better technology,” he said. “So for the development of my skills, I came here to do my science degree.”

Kolli is working toward his PhD in chemistry. He left India in 2010 and has been studying in Nebraska for the last five years. Although far from home, Kolli brought a piece of India with him to the Midwest: the game of cricket.

“We formed a club recently that I am actually the president of,” he said.

Kolli and his friends went through the UNL rec center to create a club for India’s most popular sport. Their cricket team has already played in a few tournaments in both Omaha and Lincoln

“There’s not that many students here from India — like maybe 30 or so — but they all love to play or watch cricket,” he said. “It’s in our blood.”

On top of graduate-level chemistry courses and running the cricket club, Kolli also student teaches three undergraduate chemistry labs. With his busy schedule he often doesn’t have time to be homesick, especially because he speaks with his mother every day, on the phone or over Skype.

“I talk to my mom every single day and even some days when I don’t want to, I have to call her and just say I don’t want to talk. Hopefully I can see her soon once I’m done with my studies,” Kolli said. “I miss my home but I know what I am doing here is important and I am making this my home for now.”

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