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UM Student Does All
Devi Sridar takes Miami by storm
By Jessica Goldstein

How many 18-year-olds do you know who are seniors in college? How many do you know that scored in the 99th percentile on the LSAT's? How many have been admitted to law school at Georgetown, Yale, Harvard, and Columbia? Not many people know someone who has accomplished so much at such a young age, but for 18-year-old Devi Sridhar, college is just the first step in a long list of goals she plans to accomplish.

Sridhar wanted to follow in the footsteps of her parents by going into the medical field. With both parents as physicians, she went into the University of Miami studying biology with pre-medical studies. She will be graduating UM soon with a degree in biology and minors in chemistry and French, but her plans to study medicine have changed as she plans to continue her education at Yale studying law.

"I know that my abilities will be best employed in affecting policy and political instruments, which are more effective in achieving the most extensive societal benefits," Sridhar says. Her late father, a physician, devoted his life to lung cancer research. Sridhar wants to follow in her father's footsteps, while carrying a slightly different tune. "I feel compelled to pursue a career in public service, specifically to create the means to provide health care to those who are in developing societies," Sridhar says.

Before Sridhar goes to Yale to pursue the law side of medicine, she will attend Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar. Sridhar is the youngest American ever to be elected as a Rhodes Scholar, which allows her to study international relations at Oxford on full scholarships.

How is it possible to win such an honor? "She is the most impressive, admirable, and promising student that I've encountered in over twenty years of teaching undergraduates," says Robert Casillo, English professor. When Sridhar was in elementary school, they passed her two grades ahead. When she was in high school, she requested taking college courses and completed two years of advanced placement courses before going into UM as a junior at sixteen-years-old.  She also was automatically enrolled in UM's honors program, which will fast track her to complete undergraduate work and medical school in six years.

Sridhar does more than excel in academics, though. Outside of school, she works with autistic children every week. She formed a group called United Students for the Community, which motivated her peers to get involved in community service. "One of the continuous themes has been to raise the awareness of the devastating symptoms of autism and potential treatments," Sridhar says. The organization volunteers at children's cancer wards, nursing homes, and environmental agencies.

In relation to her work with United Students for the Community, Sridhar coaches tennis to autistic children. She also has given presentations on autism to the community about how sports can lead to social development. The most prominent presentation she gave was at the UM Center for Autism and Related Disabilities. "We've written and disseminated material about autism, participated in numerous voluntary projects, raised significant funds for autism research, and met with many people in the hopes of eliminating prejudices against the disease," Sridhar says.

Aside from raising funds and volunteering for various efforts, Sridhar has co-authored a book to teach Indian culture to young children using interactive games and puzzles, called Puzzle Your Way Through Indian Mythology.

"Whether she is in a biology class or an economics class or discussing the children's book she wrote to help other East Indian children in the United States appreciate their own culture, she has distinguished herself by hard work and the ability to discern the significant from the superfluous,” says Dr. Benjiman D. Webb, director of honors program and professor of foreign languages and literatures.

Sridhar has been awarded enough scholarships to pay tuition, room, board, and other incidentals. She also works during the summers to save up money for graduate school. Sridhar says her late father embossed on her "compassion for the less fortunate and a drive to be the best I can be."

"I've never been content with what I've done or where I am because I'm always striving to improve myself,” she says.  “This is the mindset I've brought to UM." This also is the mindset she'll carry to Oxford, Yale, and wherever she goes afterward.

Contact Sridhar at desridhar@hotmail.com


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