Senior graduate Neysa Sanghavi reflects on the impact of volunteer work
When Neysa Sanghavi arrived at USC Mumbai, India on a Dean’s Leadership Fellowship in 2018, she was already an accomplished humanitarian, conservationist, author and scholar. She had worked on turtle conservation in Costa Rica, researched HIV among former sex workers in India, and was named the youngest and first brand ambassador for Rwanda in India for her work with genocide survivors.
Now co-director of the Undergraduate Government Service Student Assembly, Sanghavi reflects on the past four years before earning a bachelor’s degree in human biology from USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and a bachelor’s degree in pharmacology and development. of drugs from the USC School of Pharmacy next week.
What were the highlights and highlights of your USC experience?
To be honest, every moment that made my parents proud was definitely a highlight of my USC experience. One of those moments would be when my name was inscribed on the USC Scholars’ Wall at Leavey’s Library. Also, I really enjoyed the annual Catalina retreat hosted by the USC Sidney Harman Academy for Polymathic Study. I met some of my closest friends there. My volunteering experiences through the Joint Educational Project [one of U.S.’ oldest and largest service-learning programs] and through the USC Volunteer Center have had a significant impact on how I see myself. They made me realize that I am a proactive person who is not afraid to take initiative when I see a disparity.
Did you learn anything about yourself?
My experiences volunteering at a college to teach biology and working part-time as a tutor at USC’s Student-Athlete Academic Services made me realize that I really enjoy sharing the knowledge I’ve learned. and help others learn.
Is there an object (or a moment) that you will remember from USC that means the most to you?
I had just met some Share a Meal volunteers for the first time. We worked long shifts that day and when we got back to campus, the student government had organized a carnival. Spontaneously, we all lined up to make a photo book to leaf through to remember this day. It was during the first year, and I always keep this notebook with me. I look back and realize that I don’t really know these people, so they are strangers to me. But our love for giving back to the community made us feel really close. I think that’s a beautiful thing about USC and its community; you can always find someone or something to connect with.
How would you compare your freshman year to yourself today? How do you think you have changed?
In first year, I hesitated to approach people. My classes and extracurriculars at USC really pushed me out of my comfort zone because they strongly encouraged collaboration. Compared to my freshman year, I believe I’m much bolder and not afraid to ask anyone for help. I feel more empowered as a person. I also believe that I am much more intellectually fearless due to my interdisciplinary upbringing.
What’s next for you?
On November 18, 2010, a power failure occurred in our city of Mumbai. My grandmother, whose assisted ventilation machine cut itself off from the electricity network, began to have difficulty in breathing. Alone, I frantically called for an ambulance, knowing full well it would take them an hour to navigate the Mumbai traffic. I put her head in my lap and started singing the same lullaby she used to sing to me every night when I was a kid. As if in recognition of this, she squeezed my fingers and her cough ceased.
I now recognize that my grandmother’s experience is not unique. Global differences in healthcare access and delivery are too often stratified by zip codes and socio-economic backgrounds. However, it is the cultural, social and physiological complexity of medicine that emboldens me on this path to becoming a doctor. I believe that my experiences around the world – growing up in India, working in the public health sector in Rwanda and now working with the homeless population as a student in Los Angeles, prepared me to be the type of a doctor who will reach out to those who cannot ask for help. I’m going to medical school this fall.
What advice do you have for freshmen coming to USC?
Speak. Don’t be afraid of not following a path. You will soon learn that everyone walks their own path and there is no blueprint.
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