Duke Alumna Named to Inaugural Class of Knight-Hennessy Scholars

The scholarship will fund Suhani Jalota’s Ph.D. in health policy at the Stanford School of Medicine

Suhani Jalota will study health policy at Stanford University.
Suhani Jalota will study health policy at Stanford University.

Suhani Jalota, a 2016 Duke University graduate from Mumbai, India, has been named a Knight-Hennessy Scholar at Stanford University. The scholarship will fund her Ph.D. in health policy at the Stanford School of Medicine.

Jalota is among 49 recipients selected for the inaugural cohort of scholars. The program, which received more than 3,600 applications from around the world, aims to prepare a new generation of leaders with the academic foundation and broad skill set needed to develop creative solutions for the world’s most complex challenges. Scholars are chosen from the best applicants to full-time postgraduate degrees at Stanford. 

“We have selected students who believe strongly in the pressing need for better leadership across all disciplines, and around the globe,” said John L. Hennessy, Shriram Family Director of Knight-Hennessy Scholars.

Jalota, a Baldwin Scholar and a Melissa and Doug Entrepreneurship Fellow at Duke, majored in economics and global health. Her economics thesis looked at the effect of slum re-development on child health outcomes, particularly stunting.

While at Duke, she founded and was CEO of a woman’s health organization, Myna Mahila Foundation, which is based in Mumbai. She has been working in urban slum areas and rural communities researching and designing strategies on projects ranging from adolescent girl health, water and sanitation to social protection policies.  Her goal is to make a mark on the world, and particularly India, by reducing poverty and disease.

Jalota spent the summer after her freshman year on a DukeEngage project in a western India village to form a sanitation council to construct toilets.  Her sophomore summer she spent 10 weeks in Cape Town, South Africa, working on a UNICEF project designing a cash-transfer program to increase female enrollment in primary schools. Her final summer was spent in Mumbai on a Dean’s Summer Research Fellowship gathering data for her senior thesis.

At Duke, she participated in a number of entrepreneurship competitions, including mHealth@Duke, Duke Shark Tank, STEAM Challenge, Hult Prize Competition and the Mass Accelerator Challenge. Her work with Myna has been featured in Glamour Magazine, TIME Magazine, Huffington Post, Vogue and BBC. 

“Suhani is curious, driven and accomplished,” said her mentor, Colleen Scott, director of Duke’s Baldwin Scholars Program. “She was named Glamour Magazine’s 2016 College Woman of the Year, was selected as a 2017 Queen’s Young Leader, and yet remains a humble servant. She identified her passion and continues to gather knowledge and experience with intent. She not only has ideas, but follow-through.

“She will be the first person to tell you that she had no idea what she was doing in starting a business; she did not know how to implement solid accounting practices or even how to run the machine that makes the menstrual pads, but she did not let these gaps stop her. She is an excellent listener and a quick learner. Suhani is incredibly resourceful in identifying opportunities that will support her ideas and initiatives,” Scott said. 

Scholars will receive financial support for the full cost of attendance for their graduate education at Stanford, and build on their core degree program with leadership training, mentorship and experiential learning across multiple disciplines.

For more information about the scholarship program, go to https://knight-hennessy.stanford.edu/.