USF World News

USF Judy Genshaft Honors College makes dream come true for cousins Lavanya and Devanshi Pande from India

two Indian females dressed in black pants and white shirts standing in front of the Honors College building at USF

TAMPA, FL (September 14, 2023) -- Cousins Lavanya and Devanshi Pande from India grew up in different cities, Hyderabad and Delhi respectively, but they had a childhood dream to study together someday. Their acceptance to the University of South Florida Judy Genshaft Honors College this fall has made that dream come true. Their first impressions of the program are exactly in line with their expectations. 

“After a full month on campus, my initial excitement remains undiminished! The friendships I've forged have added an extra layer of excitement to my journey,” said Lavanya about her start at USF. She continued “the Judy Genshaft Honors College has proven to be an extraordinary place to be. Engaging with Professor Benjamin Scott has been transformative, as our discussions continually broaden my perspective on the world. These conversations inspire us to adopt a transdisciplinary approach to our studies. I'm truly thrilled to see what exciting adventures the future has in store for me!”

Devanshi is “relishing this wonderful experience, both within and outside the classroom. The initial adjustment to a new place came with mixed emotions,” she said, “but now that I've had the opportunity to connect with many people at USF, it truly feels like a second home.” Specifically, she enjoys “the interactive and interdisciplinary nature of our honors classes, particularly the way our professors explain the material.”

Born a year apart, the girls spent their early years together in New Delhi, until Lavanya’s family moved to Hyderabad after which they only met during holidays. Though a year younger, Devanshi always looked to Lavanya to lead the way and guide her, even through the college application process. 

For Lavanya USF was her top choice because of "its wide range of interdisciplinary programs, its diverse student body, affordable tuition, and recreational options in a great location.” She received the Genshaft Greenbaum Global Explorers Award, "which provides recipients with up to $10,000 to use toward an approved international or domestic travel experience during their time at USF". Lavanya is excited about the opportunity it will give her "to learn from different cultures around the world."

Devanshi was drawn to USF because of its "research-intensive atmosphere and the nearby beaches."  She is "passionate about science and innovation" and looks forward to learning more about technology while at USF. She views technology as her “tool to change the world, promote peace, and positively impact the people around me." She explains, "with computers influencing every aspect of our lives, I want to work on solutions to make them safer and more secure by delving deep into the realm of digital security." 

Both women are eager to join the USF chapter of WICSE - Women in Computer Science and Engineering. 

The siblings (their preferred term over cousins) feel privileged to be part of the Judy Genshaft Honors College. Lavanya says, "it gives students the rare opportunity to get a liberal arts experience at a research university. It simultaneously focuses on the overall development of students, helping us develop soft skills that will enhance our career paths." Devanshi is looking forward to the opportunities the Judy Genshaft Honors College promises to offer around global involvement and volunteer work. 

The “sisters” have been active on the sports field as well. Under Lavanya's leadership, her school's throwball team won several awards. She hopes to join USF's Badminton Club. Devanshi was her school's sports captain and represented India on the international level in Karate which included winning a bronze medal at a meet in Nepal. Having competed for her school's football team, she would like to join the USF women's soccer club. Devanshi is also eager to put her Punjabi folk dancing shoes on to join the USF Bhangra Bulls dance team. The team’s trademark moves are full of fun and high energy. Go Bulls! Go Bhangra!