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Class of 2024 Spotlight: Anita Taft

Anita Taft is graduating this year with a bachelor’s degree in human biology with honors and a concentration in reproductive medicine, justice, and ethics, and a minor in global studies, with a specialization in Iranian studies. 

“As the daughter of two immigrants, I owe so much to my heritage,” she shared. “From analyzing films to learning about the history of women’s movements, minoring in global studies has given me the invaluable opportunity to explore Iranian culture, language, and public health.”

After graduation, she plans to study Tajik at the Central Eurasian Studies Summer Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison before completing a Fulbright fellowship in Tajikistan focused on family planning strategies and contraceptive use. “Following this, I will attend medical school with the goal of contributing to medical humanitarian efforts, particularly in the field of women's health,” said Taft.

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Anita’s experience as a Stanford undergraduate.

Tell us your favorite story or experience related to your Iranian studies minor. 

From having dinner with a Nobel Peace laureate to watching a grandmaster chess exhibition, the Iranian Studies Program has given me countless cherished memories to choose from. In many of these memories, I have had the opportunity to learn from women who embody courage, sacrifice, and unwavering determination. I grew up reading translations of Persian poems, so to be able to take a course on modern Iranian feminist literature in Farsi was an energizing moment.

As you reflect on your time at Stanford, what are you most proud of?

The community that I have had the privilege of being around. At Stanford, I have met some of the most kind and inspiring groups of people who continuously teach me something new. (In addition to this, taking an Iranian cuisine course and not burning tahdig, a crispy rice delicacy, was no small feat, and I hope to make it for my mom.)

Why did you choose to study Iran? How has your minor changed your understanding of the world and prepared you for your next steps?

I chose to study Iran because, as a member of the diaspora, I felt a distance from my heritage and wanted to bridge that gap. Through the flexibility in the coursework, I was able to research family planning strategies and the HIV landscape, focusing on harm reduction and prevention strategies. This has equipped me with an understanding of the cultural nuances and historical context of communities, which is essential to help address the complexities of global healthcare. It has also reinforced the importance of cultural humility, a skill I aim to apply in my medical career.