SU Undergrad Gains New Perspective as Research Assistant

-Shibani Rathnam, BA '18

It was our first meeting together and as Shweta Krishnan (the other research assistant) and I made our way up the guest house in IIT Madras to meet with Dr. Cecilia Van Hollen, I couldn’t help but feel as though my heart was going to pop out. I was anxious that being the youngest and the least experienced I would have nothing valuable to add to this group, yet Dr. Van Hollen and Shweta were amazing and gave me the most memorable and educational experience I could ask for. We started by visiting different villages and conducting group discussions, individual interviews, and hospital visits as well. Those days of long commutes, of sitting under the shade of trees in the sweltering heat of Chennai doing interviews, of listening to people’s experiences and seeing the raw emotions on their faces of how cancer affected their lives were some of the most exhausting yet exciting days of my life. The amount of knowledge and awareness I gained is unmatched to any other experience. That one month was the most life changing experience for me. Not only did I learn a lot in a very short period, but I also started to see my culture and its people from a whole new perspective and I hope that continuing this project next summer proves to be just as exciting.Shibani, left, interviews women in Kanchipuram, TN