Bear Pause: Kathryn Davis Malhotra '05

Kathryn Davis Malhotra '05 lives and works in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso as a malaria technical advisor with Population Services International. Though her global health career has taken her to far places, she still considers Minneapolis her home away from home.

Q: What is the most important room in your home?
A: Front porch! In our home in Burkina Faso we have a large screened-in porch, which is almost an extra living room for us. We love to hang out with friends, sit in the hammock with a good book or try our hand at gardening with our many plants.

Q: How would your friends describe you?
A: Curious, independent, reliable, analytical and passionate

Q: What is the best gift you have been given?
A: Honestly, without seeming too cheesy, the opportunity my parents gave me to go to Blake from K-12. It is the base of who I am today and has fostered my love of learning throughout all these years.

Q: Do you collect anything?
A: Vintage tea cups. My godmother gave me some and others have come from searching Paris flea markets throughout the years.

Q: What’s the weirdest talent you have?
A: Growing up I was on a synchronized skating team at Parade Ice Garden.

Q: What’s your go-to dance move?
A: Twirling

Q: What teacher inspired you the most? How?
A: Hard to pick just one, so I'll pick three: 1) Bill Colburn, for fostering creativity and giving me the inspiration to think out of the box, even when that meant buying a broken window at the salvage yard to paint on while breaking light bulbs on it. He always gave us space to think, question and explore what it meant to be an artist; 2) Madame Dessi-Olive, for not giving up on my ability to speak French even if it took me much longer than others to pick up on grammar and pronunciation. She opened the door to what learning a language could bring to my life through our summer trip to Montpellier, and I'll never forget that as I now use French every day; 3) Mark Ott, for pushing us as high schoolers to explore the deeper hidden meaning behind the words of Hemingway, Shakespeare and others and investing in our Shakespeare lunchtime theater club and allowing us to become more analytical thinkers around our "Harkness Table" during class.

Q: What story does your family always tell about you?
A: Being a little kid at a gymnastics class and doing a small competition of who could hang onto the swinging bar the longest. I was by no means the most athletic, but I was the most determined. I told my mom after I had planned to hang on until everyone else let go.

Q: What is one goal you’d like to accomplish during your lifetime?
A: Doing a headstand

Q: What is the most surprising thing about you?
A: I met my husband, Jeremy, during our time in Peace Corps. We were both in the same training group in Togo for health volunteers.

Q: What book has influenced you greatly? How?
A: “The Giver.” I had a great fifth grader teacher, Ms. Swanson, who read it outloud to us. It was a book at a specific time that allowed us all (myself included) to be reflective on how society works or doesn't.

Q: What is your idea of a fruitful day?
A: As a malaria technical advisor, I travel a lot for work to help ministries of health, and our project teams help countries deliver high-quality malaria services. My favorite days are ones where I am with others on our team and government seeing the fruits of our many months of planning and late nights. A recent example was a trip to Mali, where I joined a monitoring team for a malaria seasonal chemoprevention campaign for children under 5. The country had been preparing for months the logistics of going door to door to reach millions of children giving preventative malaria treatment. I had a chance to go around with community distributors as they went to houses for a morning, and there is something so amazing about the thankfulness of a parent who knows the treatment will mean their child won't get sick or die this year from malaria. The tests and treatment for malaria are inexpensive or free to people in many countries, but it's about getting it to the actual household level, and when that happens, it all seems worth it!