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Georgetown Student Learns International Health Firsthand in India

Shradha Chhabria

“The special dynamic and niche of maternal health within both medicine and international health is really stimulating and is one that is easy to be passionate about, given all of the disparity and burdens that women face in accessing appropriate care,” says Shradha Chhabria (NHS'16).

February 11, 2014 – Like many Georgetown students, Shradha Chhabria, an international health major at the School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS), goes beyond the classroom to experience the world firsthand.

This past summer she traveled to India to work in the private obstetrical and gynecological Chitra’s Hospital in the city of Mysore, and observed the crucial difference between that institution and a government-run facility.

“[I] saw lines of hundreds so loud and desperate to be seen that inside the [government-run] doctor’s office [that] the doctor and patient could sometimes hardly hear one another,” said Chhabria, a pre-med student who will graduate from Georgetown in 2016. “Mysore is a relatively wealthy city with several historic industries, sites and palaces, but still faces a lot of disparities, particular divided by religious affiliation on top of the normal gaping socioeconomic disparities seen throughout India.”

Special Dynamic

Chhabria, whose physician parents emigrated from India to the United States in the late 1980s, says she became interested in the area of maternal health after taking a course that focused on maternal and child health in developing countries.

“The special dynamic and niche of maternal health within both medicine and international health is really stimulating and is one that is easy to be passionate about, given all of the disparity and burdens that women face in accessing appropriate care,” she says.

She says NHS is a tight-knit learning community.

Best of Both Worlds

“I get the best of both worlds,” says the pre-med sophomore from Stroudsburg, Pa. “I get to study exactly what I want because it’s a large university and we have the resources to do that. And I still get that small college feeling from being in NHS because I know everyone I pass in the halls and really get to know my professors.”

Chhabria says she came to Georgetown because of the international health major.

“I’ve known I wanted to study international health through most of high school,” she explains. “I thought I would study a bit of public policy, a bit of international relations, and pre-medicine. There’s nothing like studying the synthesis of all of them together, especially with experts in the field and through the major’s internships.  After a while, it became a no brainer to apply for Georgetown’s program.”

On campus, Chhabria is involved with the Hindu Students Association, sings with the Georgetown University Chapel Choir, serves as secretary for a Campus Ministry student organization advisory group and is a team leader for the ESCAPE retreat program, and is active with the NHS Academic Council and Minority Health Initiative Council.

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