Humans of Harker: The impact of kindness

Srija Gadiraju spreads positivity and care


Alysa Suleiman

“I really value honesty and being open with people that you’re friends with. I think that the best way to have a healthy relationship with anyone is to be honest and kind of tell them how you’re feeling in general, even if it’s something that you guys aren’t necessarily agreeing upon,” Srija Gadiraju (12) said.

Straight black hair tied back in a ponytail and a worn out white lab coat around her shoulders, Srija Gadiraju (12) diligently pushes back her lab goggles while gloved hands expertly dissect a cat in upper school science department chair Anita Chetty’s human anatomy and physiology class. Her eyes crinkle into an infectious smile at her lab partner as they routinely clean up the finished experiment, both satisfied after completing the dissection.

An aspiring doctor, Srija yearns to brighten the daily lives of those around her. Her medical practices include spreading happiness, kindness, caring, and lifting the spirits of those around her, and her patients, her teachers and friends, always report successful treatment.

Srija exhibits her bubbly personality through her hobbies: making friendship bracelets, doing research in the fields of human anatomy and physiology and playing volleyball for both Harker’s varsity team and an outside club team. A few months ago, Srija started making friendship bracelets and passing them out, a popular activity spreading rapidly throughout to many of her friends.

“She made me a really pretty bracelet that I have, and it’s just very intricate work. I see the intricacy when she’s doing the dissection that we’re currently on and I can see where she would be able to do dissection at that level,” Chetty said.

The detailed, meticulous work that Srija puts into making these dozens of bracelets is exhibited tenfold in her love for medicine and biology-based research, which she puts into real life practice by shadowing at hospitals and working as a volunteer.

Human anatomy and physiology is Srija’s current favorite course because this is where she is always doing something, exploring, discovering, and asking questions, inherent habits that she performs intently.

“For as long as I can remember, Srija has wanted to work with people. She has always looked for ways to have a positive impact on, particularly on people who may be ailing or may not be at a bright moment in their life. She wants to be there, she wants to care for them,” Chetty said.

Even when her intent focus is on the task at hand, Srija’s caring side always shines through. During an experiment where she tests certain drugs on cellular microorganisms, Katrina Liou (12) recalls how Srija felt remorse when she accidentally killed them.

“Even when it comes to research, Srija’s a very caring person and she respects other people and other objects,” Katrina said.

An example of this is her volunteer work as a doctor shadow at the Los Altos Sub-Acute and Rehabilitation Center. After participating in more volunteering opportunities, Srija’s desire to delve deeper into medicine and human anatomy only blossomed further.

“One of the most valuable takeaways from my visits was getting to see how [doctors] value not only treating the patient, but getting to know the patient for who they are as a person, and not just another chart that they have to fill out,” Srija said.

Noticing Srija’s curiosity and determined interest in medicine and the human body, Anita Chetty continued, “I see Srija as a doctor. I think Srija’s bedside manner as a physician would really sort of be one of her strengths. As much as she’s interested, as much as she’s fascinated with the human body, I think at the same time she is empathetic and someone who would bring a sort of cheer and good wishes to her patients. She’s very sociable as well, so she likes to work in team settings.”

Being able to work well with others strongly stems from growing up with Srija’s close-knit volleyball teams. When it comes to her team, Srija fiercely supports and backs her own: Stingray, her club volleyball team outside of school, and Harker’s girls volleyball teams, which she has played on for 7 years.

“I really enjoyed playing with the same people on my club team, especially because those are bonds that you could probably never form anywhere. Not only do you play with them on the court, but you travel with and room with them, so you really get to know them as your second family, which I think is really cool,” Srija said.

Fondly recalling memories of annual trips to Colorado with her club team for a competition called Colorado for Colorado Crossroads, Srija laughs over the golden moments she spends with her team. She and her team always rent a party bus to get to the hotel, singing Karaoke and dancing around on the bus along the way. She loves that “Colorado is a place where [they are] always together, and it’s always a fun time.”

“She kind of just makes friends as she goes… with a bunch of random people just because she’s very extroverted,” said close friend Taylor Vaughan. “She seems to really like volleyball, she gets really into the game. During the game, she always yells and cheers for her teammates.”

Katrina, who is also a longtime teammate of Srija’s, noticed that Srija and her both value the strong bond that a team grows after playing together for 6 years.

“Srija is always positive, always jumping around, always super energetic, and it’s always such a pleasure to have her on the court with me; she always brings my spirits up,” Katrina said.

Not only does she value her friendships and the way she treats others, Srija also values open communication and free opinions.

“I really value honesty and being open with people that you’re friends with. I think that the best way to have a healthy relationship with anyone is to be honest and kind of tell them how you’re feeling in general, even if it’s something that you guys aren’t necessarily agreeing upon,” Srija said. “I feel like letting your opinions out or letting how you feel out is only going to make your relationship stronger instead of just hiding that, if that makes sense.”

No matter where she goes, Srija added that perfect balance of happy and cheerful energy, while also being able to put in the hard work and dedication and achieve. Her sense of humor also never goes unnoticed by close friends and teachers.

“She’s always really goofy and happy all the time, so she always makes it really fun, even if it’s something simple like a Target run or going to Jamba Juice or something like that,” Taylor said, recalling the smallest Srija’s smallest actions that so positively impacts others.

“I guess my motto for like everything I do is — or, I guess my personality type is like a happy go lucky kind of person, so I really enjoy just living in the moment, versus living through the past or living for the future,” Srija said.