Fellow Feature: Rungsiri Upradit, Health + Tech ’22 (Anthropology)

Rungsiri Upradit is a Health + Tech fellow studying Anthropology, and City and Regional Planning. Here, she shares more about her personal and professional interests and why she chose the Fung Fellowship.

Rungsiri (on the left) with her daughter, Nahla, at the Sacramento River in 2020.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up moving quite a bit and did not really have a stable home environment. When I started high school, I went back to Thailand. I was really grateful for that experience because I got to learn about Thai culture, where I was born, and where I was from. I grew up in a non-traditional setting where I did not have any parental figures and moved from one place to another. This is one reason why I want to minor in City and Regional Planning because I want to explore my field of interest in affordable housing.

“I was drawn to the Fung Fellowship because students are able to utilize human-centered design processes for research.”

Rungsiri in her kindergarten uniform at her grandma’s house in Bangkok, Thailand.

What do you study at Berkeley? Why did you choose to study it?

I am currently studying Anthropology with a focus on Cultural Anthropology. It allows me to explore so many topics since I have always been curious about humans, society, and culture. With my background, I have always wanted to understand why certain things function the way they do. Being able to apply an anthropological lens is important in understanding the transformation and development of certain issues over time. I chose to minor in City and Regional Planning because I want to gain a deeper understanding of the political and social structures around housing because it is so complex. We need more affordable housing, but many things come into play especially in such a political city like San Francisco. This semester I will be interning for Senator Scott Wiener’s District Office. I am excited to join Senator Scott Wiener’s team, who has been leading a large number of pro-housing bills.

“I believe if you have a safe and stable home, it can make all the difference by adding a feeling of security, especially as a child.”

What brought you to the Fung Fellowship at Berkeley?

I was drawn to the Fung Fellowship because students are able to utilize human-centered design processes for research. The fellowship focuses on real-world problems and coming up with solutions to actually solve them. I also thought it was interesting that the fellowship was interdisciplinary and provided an opportunity to work with students from all different majors and backgrounds.

What is your biggest takeaway so far from the program?

My biggest takeaway is being able to come up with thoughtful solutions and learning how to consider human-centered design and diving deeper into creating those solutions with my team. It has allowed me to connect my passions in helping people by using technology and design.

What kind of impact do you want to have on the world through your academic and professional work?

It is really important that I am able to use my own experiences to make things better for people in my community. Having experienced my own housing insecurities, I am particularly passionate about affordable housing advocacy. I believe if you have a safe and stable home, it can make all the difference by adding a feeling of security, especially as a child. In the future, I aspire to work for an organization that is involved in improving affordable housing programs whether that is a government agency or non-profit.

What has been your favorite part of the fellowship so far?

My favorite part is being able to work and collaborate with so many different people. As someone who feels older within the fellowship, I am grateful to be able to talk to other fellows and learn from them every day. Everyone is thoughtful, smart, and just amazing people. It is fun to hear ideas from different perspectives, not just from their major, but their backgrounds and who they are. The fellowship has also supported me with my academic and career goals.

Left Photo: Rungsiri (on the right) and daughter (on the left) in Santorini, Greece in 2017. Right Photo: Nahla (on the right) and her cousin, Jayden (on the left), at the Colosseum in Rome, Italy in 2016.

What are some of your non-academic hobbies/passions?

I have a fourteen-year-old daughter, she is a ninth-grader. She is awesome, she’s great! I continue every day to set an example for her and be the best that I can be. Like every parent, I try to give her the things I didn’t have. I am a single parent so I do have to balance school, work, and think about my professional life, and apply for internships. I’m taking all the steps that I need to take to get there! I love traveling with my daughter. Being able to take her to different countries or different places in California and just being away from where we are normally is great. I think in the future, it will give her so many perspectives and change the way she views the world, her education, and shape her values.

I also try to bike-ride every morning. It is not only for my physical health, but it helps me start my day mentally. After the bike ride, I tell myself that it is going to be a good day, and having that routine and discipline really sets the tone for the start of my day. I try to go into things with a really positive attitude!

What is a fun fact about yourself?

I was a hairstylist in San Francisco for over 12 years.

Grand Canyon trip with her daughter in Summer 2015.

Connect with Rungsiri Upradit

Edited by Nick Yang

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The Fung Fellowship at UC Berkeley is shaping the next generation of health, conservation, and technology leaders for a better world. 🌱

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The Fung Fellowship at UC Berkeley is shaping the next generation of health, conservation, and technology leaders for a better world. 🌱

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