The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Rockefeller Leadership Fellow: Priya Ramaiah ’17

Priya Ramaiah '17 is a Anthropology major modified with Women's and Gender Studies and a Public Policy minor. Photo by May Nguyen.

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This series introduces the 2016-2017 Rockefeller Leadership Fellows. Each fellow reflects on why he or she wanted to be a part of the program and what aspects of leadership most interests them.

During my time at Dartmouth, I have learned the most from opportunities that allowed me to constantly question the belief systems and structures operating around me as well as within me, and use these critical moments as the basis for dialogue and development. This reflective process is one of the reasons I chose my course of study – an anthropology major modified with women’s and gender studies and a public policy minor. RLF’s emphasis on knowing and understanding oneself in the context of leadership is what drew me to the program, because I believe that strong leaders are based on strong principles.

Winter 2016 was my first term as a Managing Editor of The Dartmouth newspaper. The role of managing editor is ultimately about managing people and relationships, from coordinating amongst a writing staff to training new writers to acting as point of contact for the administration. Before entering this position, I had several convictions about what needed to be done to improve the quality and efficiency of our work. While these ideas were valid, I quickly found that they were most influential by questioning previous methods of operation conflicting with the values I wanted to instill in our work and newsroom culture. For example, yes, writers should communicate better with their editors, but asking why they weren’t doing so proved much more effective than saying that they should. Why did we have this 800-word minimum story length? What was the purpose of that rule? Since it was started to ensure that writers weren’t missing key elements of a piece, perhaps that was what should be emphasized in training, editing, and so on, rather than making writers feel like they had to pump their stories with fluff to fill them out at the end. I learned that rules of this sort are often excuses not to think and critically evaluate work on an individual basis, and questioning their purpose helped me understand and work to change these structures.

My experiences inside and outside of the classroom have allowed me a unique understanding of interdisciplinary connections and diverse individuals as well an appreciation for reflection, communication, and questioning. RLF’s key components of self-discovery and skill-building are helping me to develop and articulate strong, practical visions for what I want my communities and how I want my world to look.

Priya Ramaiah ’17 grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona and attended BASIS Scottsdale High School. At Dartmouth, she is majoring in anthropology modified with women's and gender studies and minoring in public policy on the pre-health track. Outside of the classroom, Priya is a Managing Editor of The Dartmouth, America’s oldest daily college newspaper, a student program leader of the Rockefeller Global Leadership Program, and a policy analyst in the Rockefeller Center’s Policy Research Shop. After graduation, she is interesting in a career problem-solving at the intersection of health, policy, and communications.

Edited by Rachel Favors '18, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications

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