Snigdha Nandipati considers herself a jack of many trades, seeking to always learn more about different disciplines, beliefs, cultures, and fields. Snigdha is a first-generation Telugu-American who has grown up with both a strong curiosity for the sciences and a deep appreciation for the traditions of her Hindu culture. She has devoted much of her time to exploring the intersections of these two sides of herself. As a former Scripps National Spelling Bee champion and recent Yale graduate with a degree in Neuroscience, Snigdha has used her study of science, language, spirituality, and culture to guide her thought leadership. She has delivered a TED talk about the intersection of science and tradition, and she is now the author of "A Case of Culture," a nonfiction book about how people from different cultures navigate the challenges of Western medicine. Here, she answers 12 questions from the Yale Alumni Association, explains why she chose Yale, and shares how her time in New Haven shaped who she is today.

Why Yale?
As someone who is very close to my family, I struggled to decide whether to stay in my hometown of San Diego, CA for college or to move across the country to attend Yale. I ultimately decided on Yale because I knew that the opportunities Yale offered to learn from my peers, professors, and mentors through my classes and extracurriculars were unparalleled. I went to Yale for a true liberal arts education, one that would teach me to be a freethinker, to not follow the crowd, and to pave my own path in life. I got exactly what I hoped to.

If you could relive your time at Yale, what would you do differently?
I would have taken better care of myself by getting more sleep and eating healthier (many a night were filled with Top Ramen and frozen pizza rolls) – although it's so hard to prioritize sleep when so many other activities and responsibilities are battling for your attention!

What would you do exactly the same? 
Spending the time I did with my suitemates and friends and extracurricular groups. My college experience would be nothing without those spontaneous dance parties with my suitemates in our common room, debates with my Federalist Party friends about normative ethics in the buttery, and flash mobs with my a cappella group at the mall. I wouldn't trade these experiences and memories for anything.

What is your most enduring memory of your time at Yale? 
There are so many to choose from, but one of my dearest memories has to be of the night I was tapped by my a cappella group, Something Extra. I remember the utter shock and joy I felt when the entire group of 15 girls came running up my L-Dub entryway chanting my name. To this day, I am proud to call these girls my sisters.

What is your favorite place in New Haven, past or present? 
Yorkside! Almost every single one of my friend groups just HAPPENED to choose Yorkside as our go-to hangout spot, and our shared memories of late-night laughter and food have made Yorkside my favorite place since. Not to mention, the mozz sticks and moosetracks milkshakes are to die for.

What is your favorite spot on campus?
My junior year common room! Our entire friend group would gather in our common room at any and all times of the day and made it feel like a home away from home. It was a place I knew I could step into and find instant company, support, and good vibes.

What's your favorite pizza place in New Haven?
I know Pepe's is the popular choice, but all the fond memories of yummy greasy late-night Yorkside pizza with friends definitely put it at the top of my list.

What have you gained from your alumni engagement with Yale?
Getting to hear about their time at Yale and learning how they have used their unique Yale experience to guide their incredible journeys.

How did your time at Yale shape the person you are today?
I used to follow everything by the book, believing that x is right and y is wrong. The unknown used to scare me, and I believed that having a plan in mind and following the rules would help me escape the unknown. But as I've grown and learned more about myself and my faith through the time I've spent with my peers, I've come to realize that life is filled with nuances and gray areas. My time at Yale has taught me to overcome my fear of the unknown by living in the moment with peace, welcoming each situation with grace, and taking each step toward dharma with courage.

What advice would you give to current students? 
Take in all of the experiences that come with being a student at Yale. Surround yourself with both like-minded and non-like-minded people. Find that group (or groups) of friends that will have your back. Try new things. Take risks.


How would you answer? Share your responses with the YAA and they might be featured in an upcoming edition of "Getting to Know You."