Harsh Agrawal (Class of 2020)

photo of Harsh Agrawal

  • senior major in Philosophy, with a Premedical Studies co-major
  • minor in Spanish
  • from Dayton, OH
  • attained a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
  • 2018-2019 President of Phi Delta Epsilon medical fraternity
  • starts at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences (Fall 2020)
"Regardless of what you pursue, I urge everyone to take a class on ethics. It will teach you to think about how the world ought to be, why we should keep our promises, and other topics which will help you become a better person."

Why Miami?

"I didn't have many mature reasons for picking Miami, but in retrospect, I'm glad that I did. To me, it's 'why did I stay?'

"I was fortunate enough to find diverse friends who shared similar values as me, but Miami also pushed me to genuinely express myself. In addition, especially when I talk to friends at other universities, it's clear how privileged I am to have professors invested in students' success. You don't have to 'play the game' to succeed at Miami—you just have to reach out to faculty, who are always happy to help.

"The beauty of Oxford, on another note, is unparalleled. The grass, trees, and red bricks feel like home now: a comfortable place to walk, alone or with friends, while contemplating the past, present, and future."

Best Miami Experiences

Harsh Agrawal and his fraternity members making donuts to sell and raise money for Children's Miracle Network

"College years go by quickly, and most don't have several great moments, but Miami has given me many.

"I was a RA for two years, during which I was exposed to people with a rich diversity of backgrounds, socioeconomic standings, and beliefs. As I tried to form relationships with and support my residents, I was pressed to develop a growth-mindset and listen more than I talked. People are so unique—I hope to learn about and celebrate their diversity. I learned how to navigate through a world full of people unlike me, and I think I will be a better physician because of it.

"I've also had the privilege of serving as Phi Delta Epsilon Medical Fraternity's president. I remember when I looked up to the older members for their wisdom. I admired them so much! I'm finally in a position to pay it forward, and it has been incredibly rewarding. In hopes of improving the fraternity for the future, I've been challenged to communicate my vision with the chapter, listen to their thoughts, and incorporate them into our execution. I'm lucky to have an honest, driven, and reliable executive board to help me in this process, and this brief journey has taught me lessons I will apply in my academic, professional, and social lives."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

Harsh Agrawal and his family at Phi Delta Epsilon's annual banquet, for which the proceeds go to Children's Miracle Network

"I chose to study liberal arts, specifically philosophy, because the premedical track entails many STEM courses. While these courses are essential to our progress as a society, they are often based in binary thought. Philosophy urges its students to appreciate ambiguity and pursue the truth, which often lies in the middle of extremes.

"One of the most useful skills I've learned from philosophy is the art of arguing: it involves just as much listening as it does making clear, rational points. It has helped foster my growth-mindset, made me more empathetic, and forced me to slow down and think deeply. As a result, I think it has helped me become a better friend, partner, colleague, leader, and hopefully, physician.

"Miami's Department of Philosophy is full of dedicated and brilliant professors who, without fail, always give their best effort in teaching and helping students. I'm grateful for professor and chair Elaine Miller and the rest of the faculty, as they have supported me in and out of the classroom. They've always made me feel like a priority!"

Research on Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EoE)

"EoE is a chronic disease of the immune system in which white blood cells flood the esophagus in reaction to foods, allergens, or acid reflux, damaging tissue in the area. This can cause issues in children, who need to be able to eat in order to develop properly.

"In the summer of 2018, I was able to participate in Cincinnati Children's Medical Hospital Center's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program to research EoE under Dr. Marc Rothenberg, MD/PhD.

"I didn't discover anything revolutionary, but contributing even a small bit of information to this nascent field was exciting. The challenge of research is staying motivated; I came away more resilient and able to delay gratification. Despite all the failures, I believe these qualities will help me greatly in medical school and my career."

Advice to Students

"Both premedical studies and philosophy are rewarding and interesting, but they are not without challenges. For certain, neither are glamorous. As such, before you commit to either field, educate yourself: what's it like being a doctor? How much do we have to study? How do we learn philosophy? What are the 'bad' parts? If you find yourself still interested after answering these questions, perhaps these are the fields for you—just remember that your time is too precious to pursue something you don't love.

"Regardless of what you pursue, I urge everyone to take a class on ethics. It will teach you to think about how the world ought to be, why we should keep our promises, and other topics which will help you become a better person. Philosophy helps us live like Gandhi wisely suggested: 'Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.'"

[September 2019]