Vaidehi Bhavaraju’s ’21 family and culture play a large part in her current life and her future plans. Coming from a family of doctors, she is about to take the first steps toward her career in medicine as a cognitive and behavioral neuroscience major at the University of California San Diego.
“I’m really interested in the brain and psychology and hope to become a clinical doctor or a medical researcher,” says Vaidehi. “My grandfather and aunt both worked in neuroscience, so I heard a lot of stories about the brain and what they dealt with at work. Many others in my family are in the medical field, and I think having that exposure when I was younger opened up the pathway to my interest.”
In addition to the love of science and medicine she inherited from her family, Vaidehi has been charting her own course in these areas. For three years, she has served as the student leader of La Jolla Country Day School’s Future Doctors and Scientists Club, which organizes different activities to enhance students’ knowledge and practical experience. “Last year, we did a sheep heart dissection and extracted the DNA from strawberries and bananas, which was very cool,” says Vaidehi. “The club is a fun way for us to connect with other students who share the same interests.”
But Vaidehi’s passions are not limited to laboratories and scientific techniques. As a young child, she joined her parents in community service endeavors, particularly in the area of food insecurity and homelessness. “Since I was young, my family and I have been involved with Feeding San Diego,” explains Vaidehi. “Then, in 11th grade in Experiential Education [at LJCDS], we spent an entire week at different organizations directed at helping homeless people and correcting misconceptions about homelessness. We got to work with Humble Design, helping to decorate apartments for people who are coming out of homelessness. It was really heartwarming.”
Vaidehi intends to continue giving back to her community well beyond her time at LJCDS. “It’s very important to me to be able to help others,” she says.
One of Vaidehi’s special memories at LJCDS is leading and organizing a Diwali celebration at school. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights, is one of the most major festivals in India. The festival symbolizes new beginnings and is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and some Buddhists. Together with her classmates of Indian descent, Vaidehi planned a small but visible Diwali event in the Upper School featuring some of the food and traditions of the festival.
The student leaders partnered with the school’s dining service to offer Indian food for lunch, and they placed colorful Rangoli decorations, stencil designs, on campus. “We created chalk designs along the walkway into the school and used little candles to light the way,” shares Vaidehi. “The entire festival of Diwali is rooted around family and community. With our Diwali event, we were able to share an important part of our culture with our fellow students and celebrate with them.”