Sruthi Palaniappan


Sruthi, 22, graduated this spring from Harvard University where she served as the Student Body President. Among her honors, she won the Harvard College Civic Engagement Award in 2017 and was named Distinguished Young Woman of Iowa in 2016. An impressive and well-rounded young woman, she has worked as an intern at ABC News, CNN, UNICEF, the Chicago Domestic Violence Legal Clinic, Save the Children and Common Cause. In her spare time, Sruthi is a Bollywood dancer, and choreographed four dances at Harvard for more than 300 people, an experience she believes taught her much about leadership. Inspired by her Indian-American background, at Harvard she championed the causes of traditionally under-represented groups by establishing a mentorship program to foster meaningful relationships between 100 first-generation students and faculty. She also led the launch of an online mental health screening system and as chair of the Student Body Government’s Education Committee led an effort to establish an Education Minor at the university. In the two years since then, more than 50 students have declared this minor at Harvard. Her experience as a young journalist at ABC and CNN impressed upon Sruthi the vital importance of an informed public that would enable people to act as responsible citizens in a democracy. She wants to bring civics classes to 5th graders so that children at an early age can start on the path to becoming engaged, well-informed, contributing members of society.

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