Meghana Sai Iragavarapu named Student Commencement Speaker for Duke

Meghana Sai Iragavarapu delivers the student address during Duke University's Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, May 2, 2021. John Legend, multiplatinum-selling singer-songwriter, actor, producer and philanthropist, delivered the keynote address.

The Robertson Scholars Leadership Program would like to congratulate Meghana Sai Iragavarapu (Duke ’21) on being named the Student Commencement Speaker for Duke’s graduation ceremony which was held on May 2, 2021.

Meghana, was selected after a competitive application process and will deliver her thoughts on the spaces that shrank during the pandemic. Quoted in Duke Today, Meghana shared, “In all my research projects and civic engagement, I’ve worked to lessen the space between the people I was working with and myself. I try to walk in their shoes and understand better their experiences.

“The contrast with COVID couldn’t be more stark. COVID made us widen that space or break connections entirely. I spent much of this quarantine period thinking about what was filling all that added space between us.”

As a Robertson Scholar, Meghana spent her Community Summer at the Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine in New Orleans. That experience spurred her to pursue research in nutrition education in Fiji and Argentina, where she studied the benefits of nutrition and physical activity in the prevention of non-communicable diseases and the importance of a balanced diet for mothers, children and pregnant women respectively.

Meghana reflected on her time as a Robertson Scholar, and how her experience in the program prepared her for the honor of speaking at Commencement, “In my speech, I talk a lot about the character development I was afforded because of the Robertson. I believe some of the greatest learning happens through reflection that was built into the program. The culmination of that practice of reflection is that I’m the Student Commencement Speaker for Duke. As a result of having so many opportunities to write and reflect, I realized I had something to say to my peers at Duke. The reflection part came very naturally – how to put complicated thoughts into digestible dialogue – I learned that in the program.”

After graduation Meghana will head to Boston, where she’ll be taking a “growth year” as she calls it working at Harvard’s Vascular Anomalies Center. Her goal is to learn as much as she can through that experience before applying to medical school.

Congratulations Meghana!