Gauthami Balagopal, 21, is a 4th-year Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience major at the University of Florida.
Nationality: Kerala, India
What are you involved in?
Being Pre-Med, I really don’t have much time apart from school work but one of my most meaningful involvements is volunteering. I volunteer with the Health Outreach and Quality Improvement program in which we provide free health-care to impoverished areas of Gainesville.
What is your favorite part of your culture?
The colors and the vibrantly diverse traditions.
How has it been growing up in the US with a different background?
Growing up in the U.S. with a difference background has been a struggle and a blessing. It has been a perpetual struggle to “fit in” and create one discrete identity for myself while trying to balance two prominent cultures. However being a part of a different culture has allowed me to diversify myself and become aware of a vast array of cultures present in the U.S., which I consider a great blessing.
Have you faced any challenges?
As a kid I was always very focused on fitting in and being “just like everyone else.”
This was, however, shattered when kids in my class made fun of me with stereotypical Indian one-liners, about how I worshiped cows or made fun of my name.
I knew I was a little different but instead of trying to shy away from my culture I decided to embrace it. I realized that it’s okay to be different and not “just like everyone else,” it keeps things interesting.