Five Indian American Activists for Social Change Named Newman Civic Fellows


May 12, 2017

At least five Indian Americans have been named among the Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows.

Anisha Sukumaran was one among five Indian American students named a Campus Compact Newman Fellow.

May 12, 2017

At least five Indian Americans have been named among the Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows.

Anisha Sukumaran was one among five Indian American students named a Campus Compact Newman Fellow.

The Newman Civic Fellowship, named after Campus Compact founder Frank Newman, recognizes and supports community-committed students who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

The fellowship provides training and resources that nurture students’ assets and passions to help them develop strategies to achieve social change.

Through the one-year fellowship, Campus Compact provides learning opportunities focused on the skills fellows need in order to serve as effective agents of change in addressing public problems and building equitable communities.

Among the Fellows are Anisha Sukumaran, Jaslin Kaur, Sahar Rajput, Erica Cherian and Akshaya Chittibabu.

Sukumaran, a junior Health and Biomedical Sciences student at Adventist University of Health Sciences, is a dedicated student leader who is involved, both on campus and in the local community, in the process of affecting positive social change, according to the university's founding president and chief executive David Greenlaw.

She has participated in efforts designed to address the needs of various populations within the community the past two years.

Additionally, she is the president of the ADU Pre-Medicine Society, a student small group co-director on campus, and a member of the ADU Choir. She also regularly commits to volunteer work.

"Anisha is a devoted student leader. She responds to the needs of the community and collaborates with others to implement thorough, sincere services to address those needs," Greenlaw said.

Sukumaran credits Adventist University for helping her find way to apply service values into real-world scenarios.

Jaslin Kaur was among dozens of students named as Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow.

"It is my joy to help others, and I value the opportunity civic work provides me to gain a greater perspective on the needs of the individuals who, someday, will be my patients," she said.

Kaur is a student at Nassau Community College. According to college president W. Hubert Keen, Kaur is a self-motivated, committed student activist who advocates for women's rights with a focus on preventing violence against women.

She champions women's empowerment and leadership, and is currently developing a campaign called South Asian Women Against Domestic Abuse and has worked with AF3IRM NYC on the Purple Rose Campaign to end sex trafficking, Keen added.

The Indian American is also a youth mentor at The Fairy Godsister and a founder of a women's leadership conference, among other efforts she has taken part of to address issues dear to her.

"Jaslin is bonded to her duty to empower youth as agents of social change," Keen noted.

Kaur noted that she feels compelled to "take on the immense responsibility of igniting community action."

"My gender justice work continuously challenges me to be more mindful of privilege and different lived experiences, including socioeconomic statuses, cultural upbringings and aspects of self-identification," she added.

Sahar Rajput was select a Newman Civic Fellow, which chooses the recipients based on those who have demonstrated an investment in finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country.

Rajput, a senior at the State University of New York at Oswego has put forth a deep commitment to civic and community engagement throughout her life, SUNY Oswego president Deborah Stanley said.

At SUNY Oswego, Rajput has served as a mentor and tutor, as well as a leader in developing new community partnerships.

"She identified unmet needs in the community and took the initiative to create innovative solutions," Stanley said. "The partnerships have created a platform for connecting hundreds of SUNY Oswego students with the community each week to address the needs of low-income youth and people with disabilities."

Rajput said in high school she visited with people suffering with disabilities to provide activities and programs throughout the year. She realized the impact that negative stereotypes have on people — in her hometown and beyond.

Erica Cherian is named among the handful of Indian American recipients of the Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellow.

Cherian, a junior at UNC Charlotte, has devoted herself to addressing issues of healthcare access and utilization by the local citizens, UNC Charlotte chancellor Philip Dubois said.

Cherian has worked at local clinics to serve members of the immigrant community since she began at UNC Charlotte.

"Erica continues to work with the clinic to develop a new app designed to disseminate health related information to Hispanic teens," Dubois said.

The Indian American student also volunteers as an interpreter at another clinic.

"Frustration gnaws at me when I see injustice being done, or human beings reduced to stereotypes and therefore being treated differently," the aspiring physician said.

Akshaya Chittibabu was chosen to take part in the one-year Newman Civic Fellowship.

Chittibabu is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut. She is an aspiring physician with an abiding interest in addressing the enduring disparities in access to healthcare, university president Susan Herbst said.

Her interest was inspired by volunteer work she did in Tamil Nadu, India, where she witnessed first-hand the lack of healthcare, Herbst noted.

Through the UConn Office of Community Outreach and UConn Global Medical Brigades, Chittibabu has volunteered in healthcare settings ranging from Philadelphia to Ecuador and Panama. She currently volunteers with the UConn Collegiate Health Service Corps, where she works with underserved populations in surrounding communities to create and deliver health education lessons in both English and Spanish.

"Doing medical service in rural Panama, India and Ecuador, as well as domestically, has exposed me to many of the problems caused by lack of healthcare access and made me want to work towards solving them," Chittibabu said.

She developed a research project focused on assessing the constraints and knowledge of south Indian villagers regarding cervical cancer screening. Additionally, she designed and implemented a community health education program to educate village men and women from 26 different villages, with the goal of improving cervical cancer awareness and screening usage in these villages.

"I plan to continue my research and service work by implementing further measures in even more rural areas in India," she said.

Newman Civic Fellows are nominated by college and university presidents and chancellors to acknowledge motivation and potential in public leadership.

Fellows are nominated based on their demonstrated commitment to finding solutions for challenges facing communities throughout the country. These students represent the next generation of public problem solvers and civic leaders, Campus Compact said. They serve as national exemplars of the role that higher education can — and does — play in building a better world, it added.

Courtesy: IndiaWest