• Route: Rockies
  • Ride Year: 2024
  • Hometown: Austin, TX

About: Hi! My name is Vani and here's my attempt at capturing my personhood in a couple hundred words. I moved from India to the US and back and forth a handful of times, but ended up settling here after 4th grade. Then, it was Minnesota, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and last but definitely not least, Texas. The time I've spent in Texas will definitely shape the rest of my life but that doesn't mean I'm not ready to pack up and leave for time in graduate school studying the immune system (fingers crossed!).

Throughout my life I've picked up a knack for arts and crafts (name any, I've probably tried it), speed walking, cooking (but not baking) and looking at very small flowers and leaves and bugs and saying "awwwww". Recently, I learned how to read for fun again and it's been incredibly fun getting teleported to new worlds for a few hours.

Here at UT, I'm also involved with UT Farmstand, GAIN at Texas, the Cosgriff-Hernandez Lab, and the BME Undergraduate Advisory Board. In my time as an undergrad I have been in a board meeting for my major with a ten pound bag of cilantro I harvested, I have walked 2 miles in my living room on call with my best friend, I have attended a baby shower where a post-doc put pumpkin pie in a diaper, and have done a lot of other things I'd never thought I do.

Of all the things I never thought I would be doing, preparing to bike to Alaska, working to raise thousands of dollars, and being part of such a large community of kind, strong, and supportive people is very high on the list. It's a close tie with doing a doubleblind-blindfolded perfume smell test with my roommates. I could have never expected doing that too.

Why I Ride

I ride to be part of the fight against cancer on the financial front, on the community support front, on the research front, and so on. Texas 4000 is made up of students from different walks of life who all take time away from their schedules to volunteer for a cause they all care about, to spend time training for a bike ride that would inspire hope in anyone, and to spread awareness on an issue that can affect everyone.

I was incredibly fortunate that watching the PBSKids show Arthur was my first exposure to the idea of cancer being able to affect anyone you know. I couldn’t believe the way it profoundly affected the entire community, but more so that young children found ways to support their friend in the fight against cancer. What could some 4th graders possibly do? Well, turns out they could do a lot. Watching the kids on the show learn that helping someone do the dishes can be even more helpful than giving them a stuffed animal and a get-well card was an early introduction to mutual aid that has shaped the way I strive to help people today. The show even showcased a bike ride for cancer charity event! People helping others with what they need help with is an incredibly basic principle but it’s so foundational in making the world a better place, and I think it’s a principle that can sometimes be underrated. The power of community support was seen again when my mom’s co-workers and my aunt and my friends parents were directly impacted by cancer. The strength and support that I’ve seen come from being cooked familiar meals or having your hand supported while going down stairs is incredible.

I have been curious and confused about the ways that cancer, auto-immune diseases, atopic immune system conditions, and others function since I first learned of their existence because the unique way they interact with the body. Understanding conditions like these, learning more about the body and how it works, and researching ways to help the body is one of the many things I aim to do. Here at UT I also work in the student sustainability office because I believe that making a true impact in future healthcare is impossible without significant changes to the environmental factors affecting public health. I’m deeply passionate about educating students on the ways they can advocate for the planet, learn about sustainable agriculture, and experience the amazement of the natural world all around us.

I ride for those in my family, those in my research lab, and my teachers and professors who have been affected by cancer. I ride for all the people I have met and have yet to meet in hope that they never have to worry too much about their health. I ride in hope of a more sustainable world that limits the environmental factors that contribute to cancer and other illnesses. I ride in hope of a world with accessible healthcare all, where people will never face financial burden for something out of their control. I ride knowing every day people contribute to a kinder world where compassion and community know no bounds.

Joining Texas 4000 has let me part of a community of individuals that deeply desire to fight cancer who want to help in numerous meaningful ways. Cycling to Alaska means that I had spent time volunteering with organizations that have related missions with my team, raising a tremendous amount of money for the cause, building up an even greater support system for anyone affected by cancer, and helping to raise awareness. It means that along the way, I get to meet countless people and hear their stories.

If you have someone you want me to ride for, something you want to share about your experiences, some shared interest, or anything else at all, absolutely feel free to reach out to me at