Aleena Iqbal Karediya. Proud Texas resident. Devourer of books, romances, and ice cream. A Duke student making the most of the ride.

These are just a few of the things that define me.

I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas by two well-intentioned immigrant parents seeking out the American dream. Throughout my childhood, I was raised to embrace academia; education and the pursuit of knowledge were held in very high regard by my parents, because “education is the one thing that no one can touch or take from you no matter where in the world you go.” This, of course, led to my being raised as a huge bookworm. One of my warmest, most vivid memories is going to the public library with my mom and little brother, spending hours picking out both fiction and nonfiction novels, and struggling to narrow down my gigantic pile to fit the 40-book requirement. The books have shifted from Harry Potter and Captain Underpants to organic chemistry and biology textbooks; nevertheless, reading, studying and thinking remain at the forefront of my daily life.

I was also raised as a dreamer. My parents wasted no time in telling me that I could achieve anything I wanted as long as I put my heart to it. Another great childhood memory of mine is sitting next to my dad, a huge handbook of American colleges set out in front of us. We would gloss through the pages, read profiles of colleges across the country, look at the pretty pictures of college campuses and dream together—his dream being the beginnings of a greater education for me, my dream being a simple adventure, a romance if you will.

Getting into Duke was a blessing for all of us. My parents were content because of the guarantee of a high-quality education; I was content because I knew Duke would so much more than just an education. Throughout my two years here, I can say that my wishes of an adventure have been more than satisfied. I’ve been given the chance to travel across the world to Kolkata, India, do research in a great biology lab, and meet peers from places around the world I will probably never get to experience myself. There are things still left to cross off my Duke Bucket List, there are things that I’m still adding to the list, but Duke has continually challenged, pleased and surprised me in the last two years.

Aside from studying biology and religious studies, I write and edit for The Chronicle, co-direct a Baldwin-related organization called Girls’ Hub and am a part of a campus wellness group called You’re Not Alone. I enjoy yoga, (occasionally) running and going kayaking at Lake Johnson in Raleigh. I love that Duke gives me the opportunity to do all of this and (most of the time) keep my mind.

I’ll conclude with a realization I had a few days ago: I’m at a crossroads of sorts in my Duke experience. Today is July 8th, 2015, the summer between sophomore and junior year, almost exactly halfway between when I started my Duke journey and when I’ll conclude it. I can say that the past two years have certainly lived up to my expectations. Seeing the date and realizing that I’m halfway there is humbling and terrifying, but the next two years, I’m sure, will be an adventure in their own way.