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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt community remembers late alumna Preethi Karnam

A College of Arts and Science graduate, Karnam was part of Emory University School of Medicine’s Class of 2026 at the time of her passing.
Tasfia Alam
A pretty afternoon on campus, as photographed on Oct. 4, 2022 (Hustler Multimedia/Tasfia Alam)

The Vanderbilt community continues to remember alumna Preethi Karnam, a Class of 2022 graduate who passed away in a car accident in India on March 18. Since her passing, the Vanderbilt community has honored her legacy in various ways, including a celebration of life event held by BhangraDores — of which she was a member — on April 13.

“There was a double rainbow during the event too, which felt almost symbolic,” dancer Aarushi Negi (‘23) said. “We were all able to honor her memory and her impact at the celebration for life, and we were able to reflect on how grateful we all were to be able to experience friendship with Preethi. I truly think everyone who knew her will carry a piece of her with them for the rest of our lives.”

Photograph of Vanderbilt alumna Preethi Karnam. (Photo courtesy of Aarushi Negi)
Photograph of Vanderbilt alumna Preethi Karnam. (Photo courtesy of Aarushi Negi) (Aarushi Negi)

Karnam, who was born in Nellore, India, was an aspiring doctor in Emory University School of Medicine’s Class of 2026. At Vanderbilt, she majored in neuroscience and medicine, health and society with a minor in anthropology.

According to SNBC, Karnam had traveled to India for a wedding. She was in a car en route to Hyderabad to fly home after the ceremony, when an unknown vehicle hit her car from behind at a high speed, causing the car to flip. Karnam passed away immediately from severe head injuries. 

Karnam is remembered on Vanderbilt’s campus by those in the organizations in which she took part during her time as a student, including her research lab, the Delta Gamma chapter of Delta Delta Delta Sorority and BhangraDores. Karnam studied vision-related proteins in the Gurevich Lab under Dr. Seva Gurevich, about which she published two primary research papers and a literature review.  

“Officially, she was supposed to work 10 hours a week, but I actually think she worked more than 10 hours,” Gurevich said. “She was very serious, dedicated and interested in what she was doing. Only one other undergrad in my lab out of more than 60 I had over the years achieved her level of productivity.”

As Director of Philanthropy for Tri Delta, Karnam also worked closely with Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Senior and fellow member of Tri Delta Miles Abney described Karnam as an incredible mentor and friend that cared deeply about the sorority’s philanthropic mission. She added that Karnam also mentored many pre-med Tri Delta members through their coursework, medical school applications and MCAT preparation. 

“She was so friendly and genuinely wanted to get to know me in a way I hadn’t felt from anyone at Vanderbilt,” Abney said. “She had a warmth and love to her that I can’t begin to describe. Her work with St. Jude inspired me to serve as Tri Delta’s Director of Philanthropy after her. I couldn’t have executed the role without her support and guidance.”

According to Abney, Tri Delta worked with Karnam’s parents and St. Jude to raise money for St. Jude in her honor.

Karnam also served as Director of Publicity for BhangraDores. Negi said Karnam was very welcoming and vital in bringing the team together, acting as an older sister figure to the younger members. 

“I think almost everyone who was friends with her can speak to a time that she went out of her way to help them out in some shape or form, whether that was driving them somewhere, getting them comfort food when they were feeling down or giving really good advice,” Negi said. “Preethi was also such an optimistic person; she saw the good in everyone and everything.”

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About the Contributors
Rhea Patney, Deputy Data Director
Rhea Patney (‘26) is majoring in medicine, health and society and communication of science and technology on the pre-med track in the College of Arts and Science. She is from St. Louis. When not writing for The Hustler, Rhea loves reading, starting new TV shows and struggling to finish them, playing sports and watching sunsets with her friends. She can be reached at [email protected].
Tasfia Alam, Multimedia Copy Editor
Tasfia Alam (‘25) is from Los Angeles and is majoring in neuroscience and political science in the College of Arts and Science. When not writing for The Hustler, she can be found obsessing over a new book, trying to expand her music taste or taking pictures of pretty sunsets. You can reach her at [email protected]
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10 months ago

The feedback of her guide and classmates paint the perfect picture of cheerful bubbly beauty with sharp and smart brain and warm and benevolent heart.
Preethi,You will fill others with fragrance of your memories but untold grief of lifetime of your parents and brother.
Please come back to your loving family with all your form and qualities this time with Fruitful loong loong life.