2013: Global Scholar Rajiv Narayan

Rajiv Narayan is reading for an MSc in Medical Anthropology at Magdalen College, Oxford. Rajiv graduated in 2012 and worked with the US health care information firm Close Concerns, focusing on Obesity policy



Global Scholar 2013-14: Rajiv Narayan
Reading for an MSc in Medical Anthropology at Magdalen College, Oxford.


Rajiv graduated in 2012 with highest honors and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Davis, where he was a Regents Scholar. In college, he designed his own major as an interdisciplinary course of economics, philosophy, and anthropology

Rajiv was the Senior Health Policy Fellow for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network and a 2010 Young People For Fellow, where he was trained in organizing for social justice. He has written for Policy Mic, The California Aggie, Next New Deal, and the Huffington Post

Rajiv worked on an urban farm in Milwaukee, interned at the California State Assembly, and taught classes on the Social Theory of Eating Disorders at UC Davis. He has researched obesity legislation in Argentina, food stamps in California, the racial dynamics of obesity policy in Southern States, and fat acceptance activism in California

Rajiv is also an avid social media user. He is currently the Healthcare Fellow for the media start-up Upworthy, and was invited by the White House to live-tweet the 2013 State of the Union Address (@rajiv_narayan). In his free time, Rajiv enjoys coaching high school speech and debate at his alma mater, James Logan High School

Rajiv writes:

'' Prior to beginning university studies in the US, I was obese my entire life. At the beginning of university, I was able to lose 100 pounds. Part of this was facilitated by my new environment (I lived next door to a gym and needed to walk or bike to each class), but a great deal of my motivation to maintain my weight loss was a burgeoning interest in obesity policy

Now I find my career goal of working in obesity policy inseparable from my personal health goals. Upon deciding to study obesity further, I found the program in Medical Anthropology at Oxford. This program houses an incredible research group called the Unit for Biocultural Variation and Obesity, where folks from so many different disciplines come together in one space to exchange ideas on how to address obesity from different angles. The course of study itself will complement my own professional background in policy with lectures that focus on how to understand the role of disease and illness in different cultural contexts.

In pursuing these goals, I'm so humbled to have the support of Rotary. With my experience in the UK, I hope to deepen my connection to the organisation so I can continue to learn from and work with its tremendous network of members.''

November 2013

My course has been going very well -- the rigour of having lengthy readings and an essay due each week has been very challenging, but in a stimulating way. It's definitely a good thing that the coursework here is taken very seriously by the department. I suppose it is precisely because the work is ongoing that it doesn't even feel like we're more than halfway through the first term! It's hard to believe I've only just moved here

I was very generously taken to two Rotary events by Alan Dichler in the past several weeks. First, the Rotary District Meet-the-Scholars event went tremendously well. We had a warm reception from the many clubs in attendance, and I suspect (and certainly hope) that I'll have the opportunity to speak at their clubs in the coming weeks and months

This past week, of course, I was grateful to be invited to the Haddenham Club meeting at the Rose and Thistle. Though I didn't intend on making a hugely long presentation, my talk and question period lasted a whole hour! Like you mentioned, the club members asked some great, incisive questions. I can only hope that other club presentations go as well

In between these two events, some of the Rotary cohort travelled to London for a tour given by David Barnett. I had the opportunity to attend the first half of the tour and had a fantastic time in seeing Hyde Park, Green Par, Buckingham Palace and Parliament Square. In addition, the scholars have begun doing exchange dinners at our respective colleges. Kristin was the first to invite us to her formal dining hall a couple Fridays ago, and I've just registered a number of us to attend the formal hall at Magdalen this coming Sunday, 17-Nov

Last but not least, I'm getting ready to visit London tomorrow to attend the House of Lords event for the unveiling of the Rotary-World Health Organization Polio Eradication event, with Taylore, the other Rotary Scholar attendee


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