Age: 22
Home Town: Dallas, Texas
Education: A.B. in Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology, Harvard College
Specific Field Interests: Behavioral Health, Health Justice and Advocacy, Journalism and Writing
Placement: Sristi Foundation, Viluppuram, Tamil Nadu
Area of Focus: Establish a farm shop cafe and arts space to help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities—including those in Sristi’s rural farming village—integrate into society while increasing awareness about their rights, needs, and capabilities in the broader community.

Fellowship Project: Livelihoods, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Highlights: Fascinated by how the body develops—and even more by how it can fail to—Akila studied the genetic basis of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders at Harvard College, where she majored in biology with minors in English and Tamil. She also wrote about health justice—traversing topics from food insecurity to caste-based inequities—as a journalist for outlets like the Crimson, Harvard Political Review, and STAT News. Seeing how the separation of science and social justice gives rise to health disparities, she aspires to be a physician devoted to creating lasting social change through writing and advocacy; her primary interests include addressing mental illness, addiction, poverty and their intersections. Through her time at Sristi, she hopes to better understand rural health and the daily work of building sustainable programs for and with communities in need. Akila is very excited to return to India (her birthplace!) after about 20 years, with plans to sharpen her Tam-glish skills, overcome her fear of bugs, and try lots of new foods.

Posts by akilamoctober


Health Justice for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Part 2/2)

This piece is part 2 of a 2 part series on health justice for people […]


Health Justice for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (Part 1/2)

In my first few weeks at Sristi Village, I was uncertain how to interact with […]


Letters from Odisha to Tamil Nadu to Chhattisgarh: A Collaborative Photo Exchange on Art and Its Stories, Part 2.

This three-part series is a collaborative effort between Banyan Impact Fellows Bijoylakshmi, based in Odisha, […]


A Daughter’s Diagnosis: (Part 1/2)

This is a fictional story that draws from my experiences serving at Sristi Village, a […]


Natter with Nukkad’s Team

I had the privilege of traveling from Sristi Village, Tamil Nadu to Raipur, Chhattisgarh to […]

The author is talking to a group of young men standing on yellow yoga mats around a spacrious room.

Seeking Serenity at Sristi: A Day in My Life in Rural Tamil Nadu

I’m woken up by the repeated calls for ‘Akila akka’ (Akila sister) at 7am. I […]

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