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People tease Srishti K. Gupta Narasimhan ’97 for having “too many Harvard degrees,” the Board of Overseers candidate said.
How many is “too many”? Narasimhan holds four degrees from the University: a bachelor’s in Biology and master’s in Molecular and Cellular Biology from 1997, an M.D. from Harvard Medical School completed in 2002, and a master’s in public policy from Harvard Kennedy School completed in 2003.
“I think it’s just a testament to the fact that I loved, I was nurtured, and I [was] incredibly supported by the Harvard community.” Narasimhan added.
Narasimhan’s campaign for the Board of Overseers focuses on promoting diversity, cultivating interdisciplinary thinking, and supporting the future of higher education.
After graduation, Narasimhan worked at McKinsey and Company for 18 years, first on child mortality and access to vaccines and later on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the company and its global talent program.
Currently living in Basel, Switzerland, Narasimhan sits on the board of Swiss biotech company Idorsia Pharmaceuticals and the Norrsken Foundation, a nonprofit that supports social impact startups.
Narasimhan said her multifaceted education and career have given her interdisciplinary skills to improve access to education and health equity globally.
“Both my career in global health equity plus my life has gotten me to work and live abroad,” Narasimhan said. “What I think would be really exciting to bring back to the University is bringing perspectives that reflect thinking from around the world. “
Narasimhan has worked in health and education policy in Peru, Tanzania, India, Botswana, and Indonesia, and has lived in Europe for nearly 10 years. She said serving on the Board of Overseers would help her grow Harvard as a “global institution.”
Narasimhan, an alumni interviewer for the College for the past decade, said it is critical for Harvard to continue to admit a diverse pool of students “in spite of how the Supreme Court decides on this challenge,” referencing the lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard over its race-conscious admissions policies.
She said Harvard should also support inclusivity through providing generous financial aid, ensuring undergraduates are academically ready to join desired programs regardless of educational background, and encouraging them to explore a variety of academic disciplines.
“It’s really important to figure out how Harvard is going to transmit the knowledge that it creates in each of the departments and schools into something that feels more interdisciplinary,” Narasimhan said.
As an undergraduate, Narasimhan served as the co-president of the South Asian Association, contributed to a nearly 300-page ethnic studies report as part of the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations’ Academic Affairs Committee, and was chosen as one of Glamour Magazine’s top 10 promising college women of 1996.
For the past decade, Narasimhan has been part of Harvard’s Global Advisory Council. She is also active in organizing activities for the Class of 1997 and served as the co-chair of its 25th reunion last June.
Narasimhan said she is grateful for her time at Harvard, where she met many of her friends and mentors, as well as her husband, who was also part of the University’s M.D.-M.P.P. program.
“Harvard transformed my life,” she said.
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