UW-Milwaukee Student Starts Day 7,700 Miles Away

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee allows students participating in online classes to do so asynchronously, which means students can study at the times that work best for their respective schedules.

By the time Ram Ravipati wakes up for classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, it’s nearly dinner time in his family’s home.

That’s because Ram, a first-year student, lives in Vidya Nagar, Guntur, India. He has adapted to a 10 hour and 30-minute time zone difference and takes all his classes online.

Although UWM students studying online can enroll in classes with asynchronous instruction, Ram chose to adjust his sleep patterns to mirror those of his classmates in the United States.

“When I wake up, it’s morning in Milwaukee, but it’s the afternoon here,” Ram said. “I actually eat dinner with my family, but it’s breakfast for me.”

He lives about 7,700 miles from UWM’s campus in the American Midwest. Milwaukee is a manufacturing city with a regional population of roughly one million that is located about 150 kilometers north of Chicago.

Before Ram finished high school, he researched universities around the world. UWM became his first choice when he recognized Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s name on a list of notable UWM alumni.

When the pandemic shut down schools and businesses across the world, Ram thought about enrolling in online classes from a university in India. But UWM adopted a hybrid model of instruction for the fall semester, which means many classes offer a mixture of in-person and online instruction. That flexibility allowed Ram to enroll at UWM while staying in India.

“Some of the most talented people in the world, like Satya Nadella, went [to UWM],” he said. “Going to UWM was my dream, so when I found out they were offering online classes, I chose UWM.”

Ram, a computer science major in UWM’s College of Engineering & Applied Science, has adapted quickly to his online classes. He routinely speaks to his professors during their online office hours and receives swift responses whenever he emails them a question. He also attends drop-in tutoring sessions when he needs extra help.

“It’s not a difficult task to take online classes,” he said. “I actually think it’s kind of fun and interesting because when you start doing online classes, you can do things in your own way.

“If I miss something in my notes, I can go back to the lecture and rewatch that part of the class. It helps a lot.”

Ram also finds it easy to connect with his fellow students. He is one of about 1,200 international students and 24,000 total students at UWM.

He has applied for a visa and is hoping to meet his new friends on UWM’s campus in the spring.

“We have a Facebook group for the Class of 2024, so we’re in there exchanging our Snapchats, setting up some group chats and getting to know each other,” he said. “It’s not hard to make friends.”

He hopes to work for a large technology company to gain experience after he graduates. He plans to eventually start his own software company in India.

“The computer industry is growing right now and there are more opportunities in this industry than any other,” he said. “I want to start a software company and I want to create jobs for many students.”