Kavita Rajah ‘16

In India, they told her she had to choose one narrow field of study. So, she moved to Redlands.

 

Within her pursuit of balancing science and ethics, biology student Kavita Rajah ’16 immerses herself in courses outside the sciences.

Bertrand Russell famously said, “Science is what you know, philosophy is what you don’t know.” For Kavita Rajah ’16, a liberal arts education is about achieving this difficult balance.

“I’m often balancing science with ethics. I try to look at the bigger picture,” said Rajah, who is studying biology at Redlands with a minor in human-animal studies and plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in conservation ecology or biology.

Rajah’s capstone project will study the effects of the pesticide Roundup on fruit flies. “As a conservationist, I hope to change the way people think. Once a species is gone, it can never come back,” she said. “That’s not just sad, it also has great consequences for our environment.”

Rajah has made the most of her liberal arts experience with a wide variety of courses—from zoology, entomology and environmental literature to courses including Middle East Women Speak and Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Speaking Truth to Power. “Some might see this kind of education as scattered, all over the place, but I think it’s made me more cohesive.” She said. “I have added strengths I wouldn’t have if I’d only done science. I learned to write, to argue, to use different parts of my brain.”

A Proudian scholar, Rajah is active in leadership roles as an orientation mentor, peer advisor and as executive director for ASUR convocations and lectures, working to bring speakers such as Gloria Steinem and author Piper Kerman to campus. Rajah also founded the International Club and served as president.

By coming to the U.S., Rajah knew she was taking a different path than many of her peers at home. “In India, you choose whether you will focus on the sciences, social sciences or humanities. I chose science in high school, but I had so many interests. I wanted to come to the U.S. so I could study other subjects alongside my major,” she said. “A lot of my friends back home who only chose one subject are already feeling burnt out.”

Despite her busy schedule, Rajah herself has managed to avoid burnout, and said: “At Redlands, I’ve been able to explore and find what I love.”