Shilpa Rajagopal
Erin and Thomas A. Bunkley Forty Acres Scholarship 
Forty Acres Scholars Class of 2021
Hometown
Irvine, CA
High School
Northwood High School

I am a fan of DIY tutorials. I can spend hours scrolling through Pinterest in the spirit of artistic inspiration, drawn to the potential of unexplored creativity and investigative search for new ideas. It is this fundamental curiosity in the world around me that has inspired my passion for interdisciplinary learning. Currently, I am pursuing degrees in biology and marketing. Both fields are defined by innovation and allow me to explore not only the scientific principles that guide human life, but also the humanistic, business-oriented elements that drive consumer behavior. 

With these pursuits at the forefront of my educational journey, I have been able to contextualize my classroom experiences through active participation in research across fields such as cognitive neuroscience, head and neck oncology, and synthetic biology. My interest in the intersectionality of public health and educational outreach has led me to study health disparities (specifically, the role of psychosocial stressors on physiological health outcomes) with the Wright Lab in the School of Nursing. Additionally, over the past year, I have collaborated with the Texas Association of Charitable Clinics to create community-centered resources for medically underserved populations in the Austin area. Through my work, I am committed to helping make spaces more inclusive, affirming, and accessible for all people.

During my time at UT, I have found opportunities to advocate for causes I am passionate about in meaningful ways. I am part of Texas Orange Jackets, UT’s oldest honorary service organization, and volunteer with New Century Hospice, the Settlement Home for Children, and UT Informal Classes. In my free time, I enjoy dancing, reading memoirs, and discovering new restaurants in Austin.  

Majors
Biology; Marketing

Honors Program
Health Science Scholars Program

Other Academic Interests
Community Health and Health Equity; Health Communication; Public Policy; Research

Extracurricular Activities
Natural Sciences Council; Health Advocacy Student Coalition; President's Award for Global Learning; Healthyhorns Peer Educator Program; SHIFT; Texas Orange Jackets; Freshman Research Initiative; UT Nritya Sangam Indian Classical Dance Troupe

What drew you to the Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP)?
The Forty Acres Scholars Program (FASP) extends beyond an academic scholarship - it offers unique opportunities for exploration and growth through mentorship, professional development/networking events, and support for educational pursuits at a global level. Through FASP, I have met incredibly talented scholars who consistently work to make our campus a more engaging and inclusive space. I am constantly learning from my peers and am both inspired and humbled to be surrounded by such passionate, driven people.

Favorite FASP Memory
My favorite FASP memory so far has been our sophomore year retreat in San Antonio. I had a wonderful time reconnecting with my cohort, running around the River Walk for a scavenger hunt, and sharing stories from the fall semester over warm chips and queso.