Valedictorian notches 4.0
Valedictorians are normally imagined as people who never leaves the library, but this year's valedictorian Kamala Dansinghani has pursued interests outside classwork, such as tutoring children and volunteering at a hospital.
Dansinghani, who will graduate with a biochemistry major and a psychology minor, will attend Harvard Medical School in the fall, where she hopes she will be able to express her love of science and her love of working with people, especially children.
At Harvard, she plans to study pediatrics, obstetrics or prenatal care.
Of course, besides her extracurricular interests, Dansinghani spent a lot of time concentrating on her studies -- she does after all have a 4.0 average and eight citations for outstanding academic work.
She also did research at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center her junior year as a Howard Hughes Intern and a Presidential Scholar.
A Phi Beta Kappa, Dansinghani was named a member of USA Today's 20-person all-USA College Academic first team in 1993.
Dansinghani's story is especially amazing because in high school and during her early years at Dartmouth, she was battling anorexia.
In high school, "I developed the eating disorder and wasn't sure I was even going to make it to college," she said.
"My first two years here, I was still struggling with anorexia, which made everything a lot harder emotionally for me,'' she said.
With the help of Education Professor Andrew Garrod, Dansinghani wrote a 77-page autobiographical work about her personal experience with anorexia. An abbreviated version of her autobiography titled "Falling from my Pedestal" will appear in a collection of similar case studies, "Adolescent Portraits," this September.
Dansinghani credits her success to her mother and family.
"My mom has been the closest thing to a role model-advisor that I have had," she said. "She pushed me to do my best and stick things out when I thought for sure I'd never get through here."
Dansinghani said she was surprised she was the valedictorian.
"I spoke with Dean [of the College Lee] Pelton and [Associate Dean of the College] Barbara Strohbehn earlier this term, but even then, it didn't really click that I could end up as the valedictorian," she said.
"When Barbara called me to tell me it was official, it finally started to hit me -- it was a really strange feeling. And I don't think it's really fully registered yet in my mind."
At today's Commencement ceremony, she said she will speak about what she has learned at Dartmouth.
"I felt like the first couple of years I worked really hard and I maybe missed out on some of the social life at Dartmouth because I was holed up in the library," she said.
She said after sophomore year, she found a happy medium between studying, volunteering and working out at the gym.
"I have sort of realized what is really important. It's the whole picture,'' she said.