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Program Testimonials

Adhiraj Vable – 2009 – “I can definitely point to the SISA experience as being the launch pad for my career, and am indebted to the program and the donor for what it has given me.”

Tessa Adzemovic – 2012

Tessa is continuing her education at the University of Michigan Medical School, where she was named a Dean’s Scholar, earning her four-year full tuition scholarship, as well as fifth-year funding if she pursues a dual degree. As a Dean’s Scholar, Tessa is automatically enrolled in the school’s Healthcare Engagement and Leadership Program, which aligns perfectly with her interests. Tessa's fellowship in India affirmed her decision to pursue MD-MPH programs. Because of her time at the Hazrat Inayat Khan Foundation, she decided to commit her life to service in the medical field, to the reduction of health disparities and the promotion of cultural awareness in medicine. She is eager to return and work as a physician in India someday.
–November 2014

Chris Aten – 2007

Chris currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with his girlfriend and two dogs. He worked as a nurse for five years in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at the Flagstaff Medical Center, while pursuing his dream of racing road bicycles professionally. He no longer races bicycles often but he did have the chance to do some international stage racing here in the United States (as an amateur) while working full time. Chris recently started working for Guardian Air, a critical care flight transport company the serves Northern Arizona. He will be a crew member on a helicopter, fixed wing airplane as well as a critical care truck, providing specialized life-saving medical care for critically ill and injured patients of all ages. “My adventure in India, with the Summer in South Asia program, was an eye opener to how big this world really is. Not only did I learn a lot about the people of India and the culture, but I learned a ton about myself. The trip challenged me to navigate a "new world," coming from suburban America and it helped me grow up to become the person that I am today. I continue to stay in contact with a few of the nurse and medical student friends that I met in India and I've had the chance to give some of them advice before they've come over here to work as nurses and physicians. I have a feeling that I will eventually end up in the research realm of medicine, but for now I am enjoying beautiful Northern Arizona working hard and playing hard. My summer in South Asia was one of the best experiences of my life and I would like to thank the gracious donors and the Center for South Asian Studies.”
–December 2014

Sara Baumann – 2007

Sara is currently working for the World Food Programme on a Nutrition project for school feeding and maternal and child health in Nepal. She has been living and working in Asia ever since her CSAS fellowship “yes it absolutely struck a chord with me and I've been working in India, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and now Nepal since the fellowship”
–December 2014

After completing a Master’s in Public Health, Sara is now pursuing a PhD program in Public Health as well as consulting part-time for the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok, Thailand. “I didn't realize at the time of applying and receiving the SiSA Fellowship, just how big of an impact this would have on my personal life and career. I was hoping to get out of my comfort zone and learn more about global health on the ground - which I most certainly did- but what I didn't realize is that I would have such a profound experience that I would dedicate my career to the region, and connect with the culture and people in such an important way, and that I would live in the region for many years to come. This opportunity was exactly the jump start to my career that I needed, and I truly don't think I would be where I am today without this opportunity. THANK YOU!”
October 2017

Senesi Blake – 2006

After pursing a graduate degree in Communications Strategy, Senesi is now a freelance advertising strategist. “I think it's an experience that anyone should try, even if it's to explore, try something new, or step out of your comfort zone.”
–May, 2017

Lucia Ceroni – 2014

Lucia is currently in her junior year, trying to continue her path in global health, so when she graduates she can work with an organization such as Doctors Without Borders or the Red Cross.“ It is hard to put in a few words the profound impact that the fellowship had on me. India was a big challenge for me. I have worked, volunteered and studied in several countries before going to India, and still, I was not prepared for the cultural shock. It was not until after two weeks in India that I was able to partially recover and started seeing past the cultural differences. India was an amazing country, it is indeed the land of contrast, and while you have to learn to deal with poverty, social differences, gender biases and other negative aspects; the positive aspects are innumerable. The people are warm, they become like your own family in no time, and there are so many people working for a better India, so many entrepreneurs. It is probably the most diverse place I have ever been to. I was positively surprised by Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), the organization that hosted me. SVYM works for and with the community providing health care, education and other services. It was clear that the services they provided were shaped by the communities' needs and desires; the positive impact was easily appreciable. I am studying nursing because I want to change the world and because I have a strong interest in global health, I want to work with underserved populations collaboratively. This fellowship reinforced my career aspirations and defined some of them.”
–December 2014

Nidhi Chaudhary – 2007

Nidhi currently works at Deloitte Tax LLP in Chicago. Nidhi started working there after graduating from University of Illinois College of Law. “The fellowship had a significant impact on me because it inspired me to take action in my community and motivated me to attend law school. Even while working for the private sector, I am actively involved in an organization dedicated to expanding work and education opportunities for low-income women, as well as a research and policy organization committed to improving the lives of immigrants in America.”
–December 2014

Ginger Cline – 2008

“The SISA fellowship has affected my life trajectory in many ways. After graduating from U-M, I had a Fulbright Fellowship in France where I had the opportunity to work with refugees from South Asia. I was able to use some of the (very basic!) Urdu I learned in India to communicate with Pakistani asylum seekers in the suburbs of Paris. I then moved to Madrid, Spain where I completed a master's degree in International Relations and African Studies. My thesis centered on microfinance and development, which I first became interested in through my research at SEWA Lucknow. I plan to return to India next summer to pursue a certificate in yoga instruction before applying to law schools in the fall.”
–December 2014

Marianna Drysdale – 2017

“After returning from the Summer in South Asia program, I carry with me perspectives I gained in everything I do. India contains 1/5th of the world's population, and before I had an idea what India was like it was hard for me to be a real global citizen. I feel more grounded, more self assured, and like I could go anywhere and hold my own.”
–September 2017

Julie Field – 2011

Julie is currently a health volunteer in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. “Although I'm no longer working in South Asia, many of the things I learned during my summer there prepared me for the life in the Peace Corps. Just learning how to live in a foreign country and foreign culture has helped me tremendously as a PC volunteer. More than that, the work I did in India is very similar to the work I do today. As a health volunteer, I primarily teach sex ed to teenagers, train women to be health promoters, and work on an improved cook stove project. I got to get my hands dirty in those types of development projects back in India, so that experience was pivotal to my getting a job with Peace Corps.”
–December 2014

Julia is now an Environmental Protection Specialist at the EPA. “International experience always enriches you in ways that are difficult to measure but that are significant. It also influenced a paper I wrote in a class after the program, I gained a lot of research experience. It was an awesome opportunity I wouldn't have had if it weren't for the generous scholarship that covered everything. Thank you, thank you! I will remember it forever.”
–May, 2017

Nader Hakim – 2011

Nader is currently a graduate student in social psychology at the University of Kansas. He is interested in intergroup relations and social identity, research areas closely tied to how he spent his time in Mysore, India a few years ago. His research project on cultural norms around sexual health among males was a fantastic starting point into looking at social determinants of behavior and attitudes. “I do not think I would be in graduate school or have an appreciation for the research process had I not benefited from this fellowship!”
–December 2014

Nader is now a graduate student pursuing his PhD in Social Psychology. “Thanks to SiSA, I knew I wanted to do some kind of research that had social relevance based on my experience.”
–May, 2017

Caleb Heyman – 2009

Caleb works for a law firm in New York City. He also volunteers to promote the performing arts among young people. Travelling alone to Kolkata, the Summer in South Asia Fellowship taught him that even as a stranger in a new city, the kindness of people can make the world feel small.
–December 2014

Robert Kellman – 2006

Robert is living and working in Chicago and will be graduating from Northwestern Law in December 2014. After graduation, he will likely return to work in government affairs / political campaigns.
–December 2014

Magdalene Kuznia – 2013

Magdalene is now a senior in the School of Nursing. This past summer she traveled to Puerto Escondido, Mexico for one month to do service learning with Child Family Health International. During that time, she learned medical Spanish and volunteered as a nurse in community clinics and hospitals. She will be graduating winter semester and hopes to travel again soon, although she does not know which destination is next on the list! Upon graduation, she hopes to work in an Intensive Care Unit back home in San Diego and utilize her Spanish language skills. She keeps in touch with her Indian host family and plans to spend more time with them now that they have moved to Southern California as well. As for the moment, Magdalene will be spending the next semester videoconferencing the Salokaya Nursing School with her nursing class for her community class. She is very excited for the group of nursing students that will be traveling to New Delhi to visit Salokaya.
–December 2014

Rachel Long – 2010

Rachel is working as a Research Specialist at the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences. “My experience in Bhopal with the SISA fellowship confirmed both my decision to pursue a career in environmental health and my desire to work internationally - both of which I'm doing now!”
–December 2014

Rabia Mahmood – 2012

Rabia is working towards a Master’s of Public Health in Health Policy & Management at Emory University. She is particularly interested in the economic analysis of health policies meant to target disparities within vulnerable populations. She will be graduating this upcoming May and is looking into a variety of job opportunities ranging from healthcare administration to NGO’s working with social justice and advocacy. “As far as the SISA fellowship, I am extremely pleased with how my experience went—and how it helped launch me into a career that I am proud of.“
–November 2014

Chris Olson – 2017

“The Summer in South Asia Fellowship presents you with infinite possibilities both because you can make it your own and because India is bustling with diversity. For those looking for a truly remarkable summer, the SiSA fellowship is the perfect fit."
–September 2017

Alexandra Passarelli – 2011

After completing independent research as a Fulbright fellow, Alexandra is now pursing an epidemiology Masters in Public Health. “SiSA had an indirect impact on my career decisions. Having had conducted an independent project overseas as an undergrad showcased 1) my seriousness about research in my field and 2) cross cultural skills and adaptability. This opened up future opportunities for me. The summer before SiSA I had done an internship in China with MHIRT. After graduating I was in South Africa for training on HIV peer counseling. Next I became a Fulbright fellow in Indonesia.
–May, 2017

Marisa Perera – 2012

Marisa is currently completing a PhD in clinical health psychology at the University of Miami. “The fellowship has impacted me greatly. Beyond the rich experiences I had working in India, the firsthand experience with the people, culture, norms, and how they relate to health catalyzed my research and clinical research interests in ethnic and cultural diversity as it pertains to health psychology.”
–December 2014

Eric Raynal – 2012

Now pursuing his medical degree, Eric is a Resident Physician in Categorical Pediatrics. “The program increased my level of interest in participating in global health initiatives/projects as a future neonatologist, although the work I did during my SiSA fellowship didn't directly relate to this field (project looked at barriers to EMR implementation in Indian hospitals). I have met so many friends as a result of understanding more about India and a variety of Indian cultures. I remain friends with another one of the fellows, and I know that she's returned to her project site in India once already. I connect with Indian patients of mine on a deeper level and can still communicate in basic Hindi if that is the language they speak. My best friends in medical school were Indian, and I participated in their weddings (GARBA!!!). The roots run deep in my heart.”
–October 2017

Sarah Simmons – 2007

After receiving her Master’s in Social Work, Sarah is now a Children's Therapist in Community Mental Health. “Going to India helped solidify my future goals and desire to work with orphaned and abandoned children, as well as children in foster care. I learned more about the power of relationships for healing. My experience in India gave me a broader perspective of the world as a whole and helped me have more appreciation for the resources available to me. I still receive the newsletter from the organization I worked with and still consider its founder to be one of my mentors. Additionally, I still talk about my experience in India with people I encounter on a day to day basis. I believe my time there had a huge impact on me and helped shape me into the person I am today.”
September, 2017

Neel Swamy – 2017

“The Summer in South Asia Fellowship challenged my perceptions of "difference" by providing me an opportunity to look past the dominant Western narratives that shape the way we view other cultures in the United States. I was privileged to share a workspace with an inspiring group of public health leaders and professionals, who provided me an education that no classroom at the University of Michigan can. Gratitude is a powerful emotion, and I am filled with it as I reflect on my experience in India!”
–September 2017

Neha Tiwari – 2017

“The Summer in South Asia Fellowship helped me decide on my future career path and gave me an incredible summer experience!  I learned a lot about public health as well as myself and gained a lot of new skills.  I'll never forget the connections I made through this fellowship.”
–September 2017

Coleen Truong – 2017

“SiSA taught me how to be comfortable with facing unpredictability, take initiative to break out of my shyness to meet new people, and learn about health topics in a different cultural context. The knowledge and self-exploration gained from this fellowship has given me the confidence to try new things that are out of my comfort zone and heavily influenced my long-term career aspirations to shift towards working in public health.”
–September 2017

Adhiraj Vable – 2009

Raj continues to work in rural India, with remote Himalayan communities in the northern state of Uttarakhand. They grow tea there in partnership with an NGO named Avani. He has started a business here in the U.S. named Young Mountain Tea to sell the tea. “I can definitely point to the SISA experience as being the launch pad for my career, and am indebted to the program and the donor for what it has given me.”
–November 2014

Elisa Warner – 2014

Elisa is in her senior year, but the SISA Fellowship has really encouraged her to apply for Public Health, and with a focus in global health. “My time in the Hope Project clinic has also encouraged me to once again pursue medicine, because I realize that my experience gives me a unique chance to understand patients who experience health disparities as well.”
–December 2014