Vaishnavi Sridhar, of Pleasanton, California, has received Virginia Tech’s 2021 Outstanding Graduate Award for the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

Coordinated by Student Affairs, the Outstanding Student Awards recognize exceptional academic achievement, leadership, and service by a graduating student from each of the university’s colleges.

Sridhar will receive her M.D. during the school’s graduation ceremony May 8 at the Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Virginia.

During her time in medical school, Sridhar established herself as an outstanding student academically and as a passionate leader in a number of student organizations. She excelled in the school’s problem-based, patient-centered curriculum.

“I came to VTC focusing on the research part of the curriculum,” she said. “What surprised me was that I really enjoyed the small-group learning that we had. I loved learning from my classmates and being able to tackle medical cases with them. I think it really set us up for success.”

Sridhar earned seven Letters of Distinction, which are awarded to top-performing students in various disciplines.

In addition, she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. This is an exclusive recognition reserved for only 15 percent of a medical school’s class. She was also inducted into the prestigious Gold Humanism Honor Society, a recognition for students who best exemplify humanism and empathy in their medical endeavors, and Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society, which focuses on excellence in leadership and character development.

 

During her second year, Sridhar co-founded the Refugee and Immigrant Medical Association (RIMA), a group of students who collaborate with two refugee resettlement groups in Roanoke to assist with medical education, facilitate medical appointments, and collect health and hygiene items for families.

“Even though I’m graduating, other students are coming along behind me who are just as passionate about finding ways to create those connections with disenfranchised groups,” she said.

Watch a video of RIMA’s 2018 Refugee Health Fair.

Sridhar was also an active leader in numerous groups, serving as a volunteer for the Near Southwest Virginia Medical Reserve Corps, a liaison for the American Academy of Pediatrics, an outreach officer for the Medical Society of Virginia, leader of the Pediatric Interest Group, and the medical school’s representative to the American Association of Medical Colleges Organization of Student Representatives.

For her main research, Sridhar worked with faculty mentors Stephanie DeLuca, associate professor and co-director of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC Neuromoter Research Clinic, and Stephen LaConte, associate professor with the institute and an expert in advanced neuroimaging. She used fMRI to view neurological differences in viewing and activity versus performing the same activity, which she hopes will help inform how therapies can help people with neurological disorders regain function.

The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine is one of only a few medical schools in the country that requires students to complete a rigorous, multiyear research project as part of their curriculum. This dedicated element of the school’s curriculum has led to its rapidly growing reputation for training exceptional scientist physicians. Since 2014, students have given more than 375 research presentations at regional, national, and international meetings. In addition, there have been 112 research publications with Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students as authors.

For her research and outreach efforts to refugee populations, Sridhar has awarded six poster presentations at state and national conferences and has been an author on five publications.

“Vaish has been an excellent student, outstanding researcher, and an engaged member of the community,” said Aubrey Knight, senior dean for student affairs at the school. “She exemplified the Virginia Tech motto Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) and is a worthy recipient of the Outstanding Graduating Student."

Sridhar is a graduate of the University of California San Diego and the University of California Berkeley. She will return to the west coast to begin her residency in pediatrics at the Seattle Children’s Hospital this summer.