“I knew I wanted to continue my Spanish education from high school in some way during my time at the University of Michigan. I chose to supplement my Spanish major with the Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) Global Environment and Health sub-plan because it allowed me to connect my working language skills with my passion for public health. 

Second semester of my third year at the University of Michigan, PICS afforded me the opportunity to study international development on a public health track in Quito, Ecuador. As the only U-M student on my program, I spent my time living with a wonderful Spanish-speaking host family and taking a variety of courses. Outside the classroom, my program coordinated field visits around the country to sites including the Center for Public Health in an indigenous community of Otavalo, and an urban medical facility in the capital of Quito. Learning about how Ecuador's unique public health system integrates indigenous practices with Western medicine was incredible. My time abroad not only improved my Spanish-speaking skills, but it exposed me to the roles that history, culture, and language all play on a country's healthcare system. Even though COVID-19 sent me home from Ecuador early, my experiences gave me perspectives on my future career path of global public health which I could not have fully grasped in a classroom here at Michigan.

Upon graduation, I will be working as a Care Manager for Spanish-speaking patients at a community health center based out of New York City. I eventually hope to pursue my Master in Public Health so that I can extend this health promotion and equity work to Spanish-speaking communities across the globe. My professors and peers from my PICS have instilled how important a global education and strong sense of cultural competency should be to not only every professional career, but to every interpersonal relationship as well. I am forever grateful for my PICS education, and I am so excited to apply these lessons to my position next year and beyond!”

Rani Mehta

BA International Studies (Global Environment and Health); BA Spanish ‘21

Hometown: Princeton, MA

Affiliations: Campus Symphony Orchestra, Peace Corps Prep Program, Community Matters Facilitator for First Year Experience, Director of Membership of the Panhellenic Peer Educator Sexual Violence Education and Empowerment Division, Former Chapter President of Zeta Tau Alpha

Future plans: “After graduating, I am going to be a Care Manager for a community health center in New York City called Sun River Health! My position will require me to link Spanish-speaking patients on Medicaid to housing, social services, mental health resources, nutrition counseling, and primary care.”

Fondest memory of her experience in PICS: “PICS encouraged me to study abroad my junior year, which led me to Quito, Ecuador. While this experience was unfortunately cut short because of COVID-19, it was one of the most transformative and memorable opportunities I have had during my time at University of Michigan. I am so thankful for PICS for making it happen!”