The UI is where Shaila Kotadia earned the bachelor’s degree in cell and structural biology that led to positions at two of America’s most distinguished academic institutions.
It’s also where she got a keepsake from Campustown.
“Going to the U of I meant getting freedom. And one choice I wasn’t allowed, even away from home, was having my belly button pierced,” says the Cal-Berkeley STEM equity planning director-turned-Stanford Medical School director of culture and inclusion.
“I remember there was this trendy store on John Street that my friends and I would sometimes shop at and they had piercings. So, one day, gripping the hands of my friends — friends I still have today — too tightly, I experienced the pain of freedom.
“Recently, I had a baby and the piercing had to come out. But I still have a scar to keep the memory alive.”