NPR

A Global Health Evangelist Is Shocked To Hear He's A 'Genius'

Gregg Gonsalves dropped out of college, drifted around, became a health-care activist and epidemiology professor — and is now the recipient of a 'genius grant.'
Gregg Gonsalves, a global health advocate, is one of this year's MacArthur "genius grant" winners. Source: Stan Godlewski

Gregg Gonsalves took a wild, meandering path to the Ivory Tower. His route to becoming a professor at Yale started in street protests and spanned the globe.

On Thursday he was honored with a prestigious MacArthur Fellowship.

Gonsalves is one of this year's MacArthur "geniuses." The award from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation comes with a $625,000 no-strings-attached stipend.

Gonsalves says he was shocked to learn that he's getting this award. "I had no idea that anybody was scrutinizing what I've been up to lately," the 54-year-old says with a laugh.

This national honor for creativity may redeem him with his parents, who were disappointed when he dropped out of college in the mid-1980s and drifted around waiting tables.

"That was about the time I was coming out of the closet and realizing I

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