Gajjalapurna Fights for Menstrual Equity

By: Esha Bagora

Public Relations Manager

When senior Manasi Gajjalapurna heads to the University of Pennsylvania this fall, she is sure to have made an immense impact on LGHS. Gajjalapurna has spent her time in high school working with PERIOD, an organization which focuses on bringing menstrual equity to the world. Even after graduating, Gajjalapurna hopes to continue working with PERIOD and spend her career reimagining reproductive health and its accessibility to the greater community. 

Gajjalapurna’s interest in reproductive health was sparked when she developed an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered virtual assistant named Melanie, designed to detect menstrual irregularities. “I worked with four of my friends to build Melanie…This was my first venture in the space of reproductive health and AI, and I became really interested in reproductive diagnostics and redesigning the space of reproductive health ever since.” Gajjalapurna described Melanie as “a personalized, no-cost virtual assistant that communicates with women using AI to provide answers to questions about a woman’s reproductive health and lifestyle.” 

Following the creation of Melanie, Gajjalapurna joined PERIOD as a member of their Youth Advisory Council. She described her role in the organization as, “a youth advisor in an organization that focuses on menstrual equity and education. I help with decision-making at a corporate and organizational level and the different areas that we work in.” PERIOD boasts over 350 chapters in 27 countries, and has also been instrumental in the United States in passing policies and legislation to support women’s reproductive rights. 

Her passion for reproductive health led Gajjalapurna to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she “worked with a research group to create a framework surrounding the reproductive healthcare access pipeline for immigrants and youth. Through developing a framework for how to analyze the systemic barriers that immigrants face, I became aware of a lot more gaps in the reproductive healthcare access pipeline in which there’s opportunity to innovate.” 

Gajjalapurna committed to the University of Pennsylvania for the power to better the field of reproductive health and generate menstrual equity. She noted that she chose the school as “Penn has a really strong reproductive culture on campus, and just has really great departments, so the opportunity to pursue the intersectionality of them all is something I’m really looking forward to.” 

As she leaves Los Gatos to pursue menstrual justice and progress and develop the field of reproductive health and medicine, Gajjalapurna gave some parting advice, “Continue to dip your feet in the water and try out all the different things you can. There are a lot of things I had wished I tried sooner, because I could’ve found my passion sooner.

Categories: People

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