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Class of 2024 Spotlight: Ariana Kalili

Ariana Kalili is graduating this year with a bachelor’s in biomedical computation and a minor in global studies, with a specialization in Iranian studies.

As she reflects on the last four years, she is most proud of the fact that she used her time at Stanford to pursue all her passions. “My desire to go to medical school did not prevent my exploration of computer science and bioengineering, and my focus on STEM fields did not restrict my ability to minor in Iranian studies and explore my connection to my culture,” she shared.

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Ariana’s experience as an undergraduate and plans following commencement.

Why did you choose to study bioinformatics? 

I chose to pursue this field because it integrated my passion for medicine with novel computational developments. Bioinformatics have revolutionized the healthcare industry, both for the better and for the worse, and I wanted to help shape the future of this field to better follow the patient-centered-care framework.

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

Following the murder of Mahsa Jina Amini, I saw the Iranian community come together in a truly inspiring way. I spent a lot of time feeling sad at first, but as I spent more time with the community, I realized it was more productive to funnel my anger and sadness into academic motivation. I knew that if I was going to ever contribute to positive change, I needed to have a more developed academic understanding of the culture and politics of Iran, especially modern Iran, rather than relying on the anecdotes I heard from friends and family growing up.

What was your favorite class related to your Iranian studies minor?

I took the course Rereading Modern Iranian Women Literature in the age of Woman, Life, Freedom last spring. I came in with a pretty well-developed understanding of the current female-led movement in Iran. What I did not realize at the time was how little I knew of the history of Iranian women's contributions to art and activism. I feel so lucky that I had the ability to take this course and learn about these incredible women from an academic perspective.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am co-terming next year to get my M.S. in biomedical data science, and I plan to go to medical school the following year.