Preethi Kembaiyan is an anthropology and public health student by day, budding social worker between classes, student group leader and nonprofit developer by night, and St. Louis activist by weekend. Most importantly, however, she is a loving person and friend, with an infectious altruistic attitude. Preethi’s unique passion for others began to manifest in high school, where she established service clubs in her hometown of The Woodlands, Texas. Her passion has continued to grow at Washington University in St. Louis, where she founded a student-run nonprofit dedicated to helping Ugandan youth. Preethi has rallied students as president of GlobeMed, an organization that seeks to improve the health of those living in poverty, and inspired her peers through fundraising and grant-writing pursuits on behalf of GlobeMed’s partner NGO (non-governmental organization) in Uganda.
An active citizen of St. Louis, Preethi makes friends everywhere she goes, learning others’ stories while helping to create new ones. Whether it is homeless individuals with whom she plays chess over lunch, or the residents of Old North with whom she has remained friends since her internship at Urban Studio Café, people warmly greet Preethi as a caring friend. Her five nominators highlighted the way she inspires the Washington University community by teaching them “more about St. Louis, both its faults and beauties, than any tour, class or research project could.” Her passion for St. Louis is contagious, and Preethi helps her peers to see St. Louis through her eyes. She takes her friends off campus to music nights at Urban Studio, urges students to vote for increased access to public transportation, and shares stories of the middle school students she mentors who struggle to read and write. Her nominators note that Preethi “embraces what it means to be human by seizing opportunities to affirm the humanity in others through her compassion for those around her locally and globally.”
Preethi deeply believes in remedying problems ranging from economic hardships in Old North to human rights abuses in Uganda. Her compassion bridges divides and strengthens communities, and she changes lives and challenges others to follow her lead through her tireless efforts toward social justice.