Staff Profile: My Internship with PCRM
By Kavita Rajasekhar
Kavita Rajasekhar spent six months interning at PCRM in 2005 before beginning medical school at the University of Florida, Gainesville.
My journey to medical school and to an internship with PCRM’s Research Advocacy Department began years ago with my parents. Because my mother is a doctor, I was aware from a young age of the positive impact you can make with a career in medicine. My mother is a vegetarian but didn’t impose her beliefs on me; I came to the conclusion on my own about a decade ago that vegetarianism was right for me, too.
As for my father, he enjoyed cooking for others and cherished the traditions encompassed in the act of eating. His death from cancer at the age of 54 fueled my desire to educate people about nutrition and to spread the joy of cooking. My goal is to care for other people’s health by becoming a doctor and practicing preventive medicine here and by going to rural India (where my parents are from) to work in a free health clinic and practice nutritional therapy.
Over the course of my six-month internship at PCRM, my knowledge of sound nutrition increased exponentially. I’ve become a vegan not just for the health benefits but also because of the web of issues involved in food production. From animal rights to human rights to environmental stewardship, there are many reasons to stop eating animals.
As I made the transition, PCRM’s Cancer Project inspired me with many tasty recipes. I’m sure my dad would be proud of the friends, colleagues, knowledge, and experience I gained at PCRM. He’d be especially proud that I can make delicious, colorful salads!
Although I’ve been interested in a medical career for some time and I’ve been learning more and more about nutrition over the last ten years, there is one area I knew precious little about before coming to PCRM: the scientific and ethical problems surrounding experiments on animals. My internship has equipped me to challenge assumptions I may face as a first-year medical student in the fall. And it has made me realize that I can be a voice for animals while studying to improve the health of people.
Working with PCRM’s research department has taught me simple, specific ways that I can care for human health without harming non-human animals, such as donating to charities that have the Humane Charity Seal of Approval. In addition, attending the diabetes study being conducted by PCRM physicians gave me a firsthand look at one viable alternative to animal research—a clinical research project featuring cooking classes, weekly meetings, nutritional support, and compassion.
I’m proud to have been a part of a team of professionals dedicated to saving lives by promoting safe, effective, and humane research. My experience at PCRM was educational and inspiring, and I believe I’ll be a better physician because of it.