This month we feature doctor, activist and former paralympic athlete, Anjali Forber Pratt
Born in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) India, Anjali lived in an orphanage for two and a half months before being adopted by her family from Natick, Massachusetts. Two months after arriving in the United States, she contracted an illness resulting in the diagnosis of transverse myelitis, a neurological disorder that affects the spinal cord. Rushed to the hospital, she was not expected to live. However, she survived, paralyzed from the waist down.
Anjali was introduced to the world of sports at the young age of five. She attended a sports clinic for children with disabilities at the Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, MA. Exposed to a variety of sports, Anjali took a strong liking to track. She quickly excelled and by the age of nine she was competing at the national level in track and field.
She is the former world record holder in the 200m. She focuses on the sprints, namely the 100m, 200m and 400m events.
- July 2007, Anjali competed at the United States Paralympic National Track and Field Championships, where she finished 1st place in the 100m and 200 meter events, 2nd in the 400 meters and 4th in the 800 meters.
- She was named to the United States Paralympic Track and Field Team and selected to represent the United States at the ParaPan American Games in Rio de Janeiro—where she came home with two gold medals in the 100m and 200m and a bronze in the 400m.
- Anjali was the Bronze Medalist at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, in the 400m.
- Anjali was the Bronze Medalist at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing, China, in the 4x100m relay.
- Anjali was the Gold Medalist in the 200m, Silver Medalist in the 100m and Silver Medalist in the 400m at the 2011 World Championships in Christchurch, New Zealand.
- Anjali went on that same season in 2011 to break the world record in the 200m at a competition in Switzerland.
- Anjali represented Team USA at the 2012 London Paralympic Games competing in the 100m, 200m and 400m.
Anjali J. Forber-Pratt, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor at the Department of Human & Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University. Her research agenda adopts a social-ecological framework and looks at issues surrounding identity, equity and empowerment through methodology for individuals who are different in some way, with a large focus on disability. Forber-Pratt has a strong background in qualitative methodology and her research focuses on individuals who struggle to succeed due, in part, to some difference that has labeled them outside the mainstream. Those differences include, and are not limited to, disability, race, gender, and sexual orientation. Her work cuts across education (elementary, secondary, postsecondary), sports, work, and quality of life contexts.
Globally, she is involved with disability advocacy efforts related to access to education, employment and sport through public speaking and media appearances. Dr. Forber-Pratt has appeared on several television programs and radio shows including: NPR; The Stream; and Sesame Street; and has been quoted in the national print press, including The Boston Globe, New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, and Runner’s World. She was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change in 2013 and had an opportunity to participate in a roundtable discussion with President Obama about disability policy issues.