2014 President’s Medallion Award Recipient

Dr. Hanimireddy Lakireddy was born in the remote village of Velvadam in British India in 1942. He was 5 years old when India gained its independence.

By the time he began attending primary school, Velvadam was still without electricity or paved roads. Transportation was lacking and for most of the villagers, education was only a dream.

Dr. Lakireddy’s father believed he should become a farmer rather than going to school, and though he pleaded with his father to allow him to go to school, he actually missed two years of his education while working on a farm. Although he lost his mother when he was in 8th grade, he was able to complete high school at a recently established local school which was two miles away. Dr. Lakireddy walked to school without shoes and his only clothing were two 2 pairs of shorts and two shirts.

Despite intense competition and with little guidance from his elders, he gained admission to medical school on the merit of his standardized exam scores. After successfully completing his medical education, and after getting married, Dr. Lakireddy returned to his village to practice medicine.

During this time, his oldest brother had come to the United States to study chemistry at UC Berkeley. He eventually settled here and encouraged his family to migrate after seeing the many opportunities this country could afford.

Dr. Lakireddy eventually followed his family and arrived in America in 1978 with his wife Vijaya and their two young children. He completed his training in Internal Medicine and Cardiology and began his successful practice as a cardiologist in Merced in 1984. He has been serving our local community for the past 30 years, serving his patients with compassion, and earning great respect from his peers in the medical community.

In addition to his invaluable service to his patients as a cardiologist, Dr. Lakireddy has helped many people informally as a mentor and advisor. It is his role as a philanthropist that we are recognizing and celebrating today.

As most of us know, his largesse has been focused on educational causes because he fundamentally believes that knowledge is the most effective vehicle to change the trajectory of one’s life. He feels strongly enough about this that his generosity is felt and acknowledged not just here in Merced, but also in his native country where he and Vijaya have donated generously to advance educational causes. He has been instrumental in building several schools and most recently, a college near the village where he grew up.

Here at home, along Vijaya, he has given generously to various causes including Merced College, UC Merced, and Merced High School.

Although they have been recognized recently for their large contributions to Merced College and UC Merced, it has been largely unnoticed that they have provided scholarships in the name of Dr. Lakireddy’s parents to Merced High School graduates based on merit and need for the last 29 years. They have done this without any fanfare or ceremony.

Philanthropy has been his way of thanking the local community for all that it has done for him and his family. Dr. Lakireddy sincerely appreciates the United States for providing him with the opportunity to succeed.