“My dad used to say, 'Can you even travel somewhere alone? I don't think you could even go to a different city in India!' Back in India, you live with your family... your mom cooks the food, she takes care of everything. My first year [at Tulane] I was so far away from home, family and friends, homesick and not used to doing everything by myself. I came here to do a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. There are hardly any schools in India that I can go to to get specialized in this field.
I had very few friends here. So, I started going to OISS events because there’s is an opportunity to meet other international students and the OISS staff. They're super friendly and they try to make the experience for international students as comfortable as possible. And there's an International Student Advisory Board (ISAB) created to get feedback about what's going on in the international student community. I applied and I got onto the board! [So I started] interacting with this very diverse group of people and learning about different cultures and opinions. The next year I became ISAB’s president!
At the end of my term, I was approached by the president of Graduate and Professional Student Association (GAPSA) -for all the graduate students at Tulane. He nominated me as the president for next year and I got elected! Getting that opportunity was really unique for me being an international student. Now I'm working on all graduate student issues, interacting with a lot more people on campus and thinking on a much larger scale about 'What can I do to benefit graduate students?'
Now a lot of people recognize me and feel safe to approach me. I've been learning a lot, and this experience is going to help moving forward in my career. I’m much more empathetic now and think more broadly. I feel great to get a chance to work on all these things and make an impact to better the experience of graduate students on campus. You know, actually interacting with people from diverse backgrounds is a positive thing. I think international exchange changes the way you think. You see things in a much broader scale. You consider a lot more aspects of whatever you are thinking.”