Jun 18, 2018

Summer Intern Series: Kavita Athalye

This summer, we’re excited to welcome five interns to Global Headquarters! Hailing from four GlobeMed chapters from across the country, these interns will serve as integral parts of GlobeMed’s work as we expand our technology platforms, grow our communications and partnerships strategy, and gear up for another year of chapter engagement and support.

Meet Kavita Athalye, who will be working on Communications.

Chapter: GlobeMed at Emory University
Major: Biology
Year: Class of 2018
Hometown: Bangalore, India

What’s your story?
I was born in the United States, in Atlanta, and did my primary schooling there. When I was 10 years old, my parents made the big decision to move to India, so that I could grow up being in touch with my culture and being confident in my cultural identity, and also be close to my extended family. We moved to the southern region of India, to the city of Bangalore. Initially, I was always mocked in school and in the neighborhood for having an American accent. Many kids my age would perceive a person with an American accent, a two-piece swimsuit, Hershey’s chocolates, and other “American things” as someone who was rich, bratty, and pretentious. Innately, I have always been an extroverted, go-getter type of person. So the combination of coming from the U.S. and being very driven resulted in me being branded as bossy and aggressive in my friend circles (teachers in schools would also tell me to “stop asking irrelevant questions” when I would pose queries related to the material being taught). It took some time, but by the end of my middle school years, people were able to see that although I was privileged to have spent some time in an affluent country, thanks to my parents, I was aware of my cultural roots and always identified myself as an Indian. Today, living in the States, I do envision myself following my parents’ footsteps to return to India in the future. Growing up in two very different cultures and countries has made me a global citizen, and is a huge reason why the field of Public Health appealed to me as a career!

In college, I was the oddball Biology student who never envisioned herself as a doctor or researcher. I had been exposed to Biology since the 7th grade in India, and fell in love with the subject, which is why I decided to major in it — not because I wanted a pre-med ticket to medical school. I grappled with the questions:

What career do I envision for myself?

If I don’t want to be a doctor, is that okay?

Should I quit Biology and pursue something else?

My parents have always been supportive of my decisions to pursue my interests, and I’m thankful that they didn’t press any specific career path upon me. Over time, I learned more about the field of Public Health and realized that it is such an interdisciplinary field, that could combine my interests in science, economics, sociology and my latest passion- marketing. I became more confident in telling people that although I adore Biology, I will not be a doctor or researcher; I want to educate and empower communities about preventative medicine, chronic diseases, and new breakthroughs in treatments so that they are inspired to adopt healthier lifestyles.

What are you studying? Do you know what you’d like to do in the future?
I graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Biology from Emory University, and although there were a few times when I thought I’d be interested in another major/career field, I would like to continue my passion for human health by potentially earning a Masters in Public Health. I am equally interested in exploring careers on the business/marketing side of healthcare, so I would also like to earn my MBA. I envision being able to break down barriers and improving access to healthcare by transforming the way health information is created and distributed to the general public. There is so much misinformation in the media about diets, medical treatments, and other issues. that I think people feel powerless and demotivated to adopt healthier lifestyles. I hope to apply my knowledge of Biology to provide scientifically accurate yet easily understandable information, by translating scientific research into creative media. I believe that, if people are empowered by the science, for example, what cigarette smoke is doing to their lungs, then they can make a more informed choice when they are faced with the option of choosing to smoke a cigarette. Passively informing people that “smoking causes cancer” isn’t, in my opinion, enough of an incentive to quit smoking.

How has GlobeMed fit into that picture up to this point? What roles have you played in your chapter?
Along with my growing interest in Public Health, I was curious about the nonprofit field and how an NGO dedicated to health is structured and its functions. I joined GlobeMed at Emory during the sophomore year of my undergraduate career, and was quickly exposed to the variety of global health issues that people from different regions are faced with, including structural violence, maternal mortality, food insecurity, and the relationship between war conflict and mental health. Every week at our meetings, I learned about the vast nature of global health, and kept thinking about where I would like to place myself and contribute to this interdisciplinary field. I have held roles as the ghU coordinator and Campaigns coordinator for my chapter at Emory. My ghU role allowed me to explore and discuss issues that were occurring around the world in relation to health and human rights, while my Campaigns responsibility honed my ability to conceptualize, organize and execute fundraising initiatives.

What sparked your interest in this summer internship and what you’ll be doing here at the Global Headquarters?

My experience and involvement with GlobeMed has been life-changing, because it confirmed that global health was the right path for me. It opened up many doors for me, including the opportunity to speak about my involvement to others during networking events and job interviews; everyone is always impressed with the work that GlobeMed does. I was drawn to the Communications internship as I was excited to create new resources and materials to better educate our chapter members on how they can inspire their respective communities to pursue global health as a career, and create more informed and well-rounded health professionals in the long run. This internship combines my passion for human health and content creation!

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