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Priyanka Rao

My name is Priyanka Rao- I am a senior at Duke majoring in Neuroscience. I chose Neuroscience because I have always been fascinated by the brain and how much it affects our reality. I did a project in high school where I learned about neurotransmitters and antidepressants and fell in love. In college, I have found that my biggest takeaway from the major is realizing that much of personality and behavior is out of our control- much of the way we are is due to our genes, biology, chemical reactions, epigenetics etc. It has made me think more critically about my own behavior and how my actions can affect myself and others around me.

L's Taken


"Thank you for applying but..."

  • Baldwin Scholars

  • DUU Broadcasting President 

  • Videography job freshman year college (forgot the name)


Things I thought I'd finish but never did

  • Multiple books: Barack Obama's biography, Gulliver's Travels, Jane Eyre  

  • Learning how to use Adobe Premiere 

  • Making it a habit to wake up at 7 am every morning to read, do yoga


Everyday L's of life

  • Spilling coffee on myself 

  • Oversleeping and rushing to class 

  • Realizing I was on youtube for 3 hours instead of doing work

On the Bright Side


Memories I made when I wasn't working/studying

  • Amazing dinners with friends/family 

  • Beautiful sunset walks 

  • Making new friendships


Things I've learned that will still matter in 10 years

  • My relationships with my friends/family 

  • My health 

  • My happiness


TV shows, movies, and books I've enjoyed

  • Schitts Creek 

  • The Office 

  • The Good place 

  • Michelle Obama's book: Becoming


Things I'm proud of that you won't see on my resume

  • The way I treat people 

  • My friendships 

  • A good daughter to my parents


Unconventional skills

  • Making people laugh and feel comfortable 

  • Blowing bubbles 

  • Ability to imitate others


Quirk that makes me who I am

  • Being too honest for my own good


Small joys in my life

  • Sunset walks 

  • Watching water move 

  • The first sip of coffee in the morning 

  • The first bite of a food you have been craving especially when you are starving 

  • Getting into bed every night 

  • When the hot shower hits you after a good workout


Obstacles I have overcome

  • Taking the MCAT 

  • Recovering from a golf cart accident/Being ok with the scars on my body


Things I've done that pushed me out of my comfort zone

  • Trying new foods 

  • Participating in DukeEngage 

  • Going to Singapore with my friends 

  • Cooking new meals


Failures that seemed like the end of the world back then but don't matter in hindsight

  • Not making baldwin scholars 

  • Getting a C+ in Orgo 2


Leaps of Faith

  • Applying to Duke ED 

  • Going to Singapore with my friends 

  • Getting an apartment off campus


Life events that have made me stronger

  • COVID 

  • Golf cart accident; made me realize the superficial is not as important


Advice I would give to another Duke student

  • Plan your joy- its something I heard Michelle Obama say. Its really easy to plan your work day, but its important to plan your joy- it makes you work harder and gives you things to look forward to. This advice has really helped me in college.

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