The big brother of Fox sitcom star Mindy Kaling reveals that he got into medical school by pretending to be African American.
Fifteen years ago, Vijay Chokal-Ingam shaved off his straight black hair, trimmed what he calls his “long Indian eyelashes” and started checking off the “black” box for race on his med-school applications.
Before long, the Asian Indian American was interviewing at Harvard and Columbia, and found himself on wait lists at the University of Pennsylvania, Washington University and Mt. Sinai — despite his relatively mediocre 3.1 GPA and his family’s considerable wealth.
“I love my sister to death,” Chokal-Ingam, 38, told The Post in a telephone interview from Los Angeles, where he and his comedienne sibling both live. But they’re fighting over his revelation. “She says this will bring shame on the family.”
Chokal-Ingam wound up dropping out of St. Louis University Medical School two years after he got in under false pretenses.
He eventually was accepted at, and graduated from, UCLA Anderson’s MBA program — as an Asian Indian-American.
Chokal-Ingam says he’s revealing his race ruse now because he heard that UCLA is considering strengthening its affirmative-action admissions policies. He says it’s a myth that affirmative action benefits the underprivileged.
He plans to write a memoir about his experiences, to be titled “Almost Black.”
“I got into medical school because I said I was black,” Chokal-Ingam writes in his blog, at almostblack.com. “The funny thing is I’m not. My plan actually worked. Lucky for you, I never became a doctor.”
St. Louis University Medical School boasts of being highly selective, and of its incoming students having an average GPA of 3.84.
Chokal-Ingam said he came up with the idea of self-identifying as “black” after seeing fellow Asian Indian Americans with better grades than he had struggle to get into med school.“I disclosed that I grew up in one of the wealthiest towns in Massachusetts, that my mother was a doctor, and that my father was an architect,” he said Saturday, describing his med-school applications.
“I disclosed that I didn’t receive financial aid from the University of Chicago, and that I had a nice car,” he said. “I was the campus rich kid, let’s just put it on the table. And yet they considered me an affirmative-action applicant.”
On affirmative action in general, Chokal-Ingam said, “Racism is not the answer…. It also promotes negative stereotypes about the competency of minority Americans by making it seem like they need special treatment.”