Who is Anjali Forber-Pratt?

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Anjali is a born fighter.

Born in Calcutta (now known as Kolkata) India, Anjali lived in an orphanage
for two and a half months before being adopted by her loving 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, her fighting spirit prevailed and
Anjali survived. Transverse myelitis left her paralyzed from the
waist down.

What some people might view as a tragedy, Anjali would come to view as a
positive life altering event. Through this adversity she developed an innate
drive and determination that she has utilized in every facet of her life.

Anjali was introduced to the world of disabled sports at the young age of 5.
She attended a sports clinic for children with disablities at the
Massachusetts Hospital School in Canton, MA. Exposed to a variety of sports,
young Anjali took a strong liking to track. She quickly excelled and by the
age of 9 she was competing at the national level in track and field.

Anjali embraced challenges that others would have avoided. She has experienced
some very serious sport related injuries. At age 13 Anjali was participating in a road race
and crashed. In addition to further injury to her back she broke both of her wrists.
Forced to take a hiatus from wheelchair racing, she refused to give up her athletic
aspirations altogether! Instead she focused her efforts on downhill skiing, which was
less intensive on her wrists, and continued to amaze all those who knew her.
This was not her first injury and would not be her last, but the strength with which
she faced these challenges has never wavered.

Anjali also had to fight to get an education. She was challenged and many doubted
that she had what it takes to “make it.” Her determination and grit led Anjali to excel not
only in primary school, but also in her secondary education. To date, Anjali has her
bachelor's degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree!

Hard work earned Anjali numerous top three finishes throughout her skiing

  • 1999, she won a gold medal for the Giant Slalom in the junior division at Chevy Truck Disabled World Cup in Breckenridge, Colorado.
  • 2000, she captured 3rd place in the women’s open division in the Super-G at the Columbia Crest Cup.
  • 2002, she started her college life at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Although she had to take a break from skiing (because of the geography), she became extremely involved with a variety of student organizations, where Anjali received several awards for her leadership and service to others.

Anjali found her way back to the track in 2006.

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.

Professional Bio

Anjali is now an Assistant Professor at Peabody College in the Department of Human & Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. She is also a member of Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Human Development, which is one of the top research centers for disability-related work in the country. She is a graduate from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign with a Ph.D. in Human Resource Education. Her research looks at issues surrounding identity, equity and empowerment for individuals who are different in some way, with a large focus on disability. Her dissertation research--an autoethnography about synthesizing one’s identities and becoming a role model--has earned recognition from the American Educational Research Association.

As a Paralympic medalist in the sport of wheelchair racing, she has dedicated her life to helping others recognize their potential. Anjali enjoys traveling for speaking engagements around the country and volunteering with local organizations for kids with disabilities. She co-wrote a Color, Learn and Play book aimed at educating young aspiring Paralympians on the variety of sports they can play and to teach young children that disabled people can play sports too!

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 presents regularly at state, national, and international conferences and is author on 24 peer-reviewed journal articles and numerous chapters. She was honored by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education as a 2018 Emerging Scholar. The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) has also recognized her leadership abilities by awarding her the prestigious 2013 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award, given to emerging leaders within the national disability community. 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, The New York Times, Huffington Post, USA Today, Forbes, 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.

Photo of Anjali sitting in wheelchair with black service dog by side.