“We’re a Part of a Generation of ‘Firsts’ Driving Change in Our Country”
Who are the young people behind the Up to Us movement and how has their commitment to raising awareness on the nation’s fiscal challenges impacted their personal and professional lives? Alumni of the Up to Us Campus Competition share how it shaped their collegiate experience and prepared them for their careers. We recently connected with Sruveera Sathi, 23, Arlington, VA, Competition Years: 2015-16, to ask her about her experience and learn about what she is up to today.
Q: As a member of the winning team of the Up to Us 2015-16 Campus Competition, we imagine the experience stands out as one of many highlights of your undergraduate studies. What about that experience and the campaign stands out to you today?
SS: I truly cherish the moments travelling with my team to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) meeting, held April 2016 at the University of California, Berkeley; and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s Fiscal Summit in Washington, D.C., the following month, where I was recognized on stage in front of thousands of people.
But what stands out about the Campus Competition is one of the events our team created, which we called "The Great Debt-bate."
Our team, which included students pursuing a variety of majors and from different backgrounds, came together and we figured out a way to execute the “debt-bate” really well. We had invited representatives from the four political parties on campus: The Young Democrats, College Republicans, Socialists, and Libertarians. We debated a wide range of issues related to the national debt, including health care, foreign policy, and fiscal issues, on a shared stage. This was the first time in the history of William & Mary, where I went to undergrad, where so many political, social and academic points of view were represented at one event.
Q; Tell us about the skills you learned through participating in Up to Us. How are you applying those skills in your career today?
SS: The most important skill I learned from the Up to Us campaign was how to be a leader. Leadership skills are valuable in any career field. As a participant in Up to Us, I had to formulate an idea and vision, build a team, communicate it to peers through collaboration and building consensus, and then help create our strategy, sustain and build our team’s motivation, and finally execute that vision, together. It was challenging but very rewarding because we did it as a team.
Q: Can you tell us about your job?
SS: I'm working as a medical scribe which has been a great clinical learning experience. I am learning the components that go into taking patient history, physical examinations and the medical decision-making process, and have seen many different patients from high-acuity to routine cases, to people from different socio-economic backgrounds. I've also been interviewing at medical schools and I'm crossing my fingers for good news soon.
We're a part of a generation of "firsts" driving change in our country in so many different ways. It's exciting to be a part of this movement.
Q: That’s very impressive! How do you manage so many academic and professional challenges at once?
SS: My job does keep me very busy, but I learned how to be a good multi-tasker in college – and leading our Up to Us team helped me hone those skills. I’ve learned that you can create the capacity to pursue your interests, whatever they may be if you are really committed to achieving the goals you set for yourself.
I also think about the fact that I was born in India and am a first-generation immigrant drives me. My parents both went to college in India. I also have a younger sister who is finishing up her senior year at Virginia Tech.
My parents instilled in us a deep appreciation for education and pursuing our dreams. And being the first in my immediate family to attend college in the United States motivated me to use what I have learned that for students like me, it is important to serve a higher purpose. We’re a part of a generation of “firsts” driving change in our country in so many different ways. It’s exciting to be a part of this movement.
Q: What other pursuits interest you, outside of work?
SS: After graduation, I became trained as a volunteer doula for low-income women after learning during a health policy internship, about the high maternal mortality rates in the United States, especially for black women in Washington, D.C. This work completely changed my world view because I learned how important cultivating non-clinical competencies are to providing medical care.
I'm also a writer for I write about social justice, politics, culture and also interview individuals who are making strides in the field they are in, ranging from film, medicine, to politics., an online publication for South Asian women in the diaspora.
Overall, these interests are geared toward my passion to improve the health outcomes of the greater public, with a focus on minorities, women, and children. My career goal is to combine my medical expertise with community engagement, digital media, and advocacy to decrease inequities in society.
Q: What advice would you give to a student entering the job market?
SS: Try to be as authentic as possible in all your interactions. In order to do this, you should start looking inward and developing a sense of who you are, what your purpose is, what your career goals are, and then try to seek out opportunities that can allow you to inch closer and closer to those goals.
You will face a lot of rejections but don't let those define you. Instead, seek feedback if possible and move on. Do not compare yourself to others who may seem to have it all "together." I guarantee you no one has it all figured out.
Also, network with people and start finding communities post-grad. I've had people in my college year or a year or two above open doors for me or point me toward a certain direction. It's okay if it's been a while since you’ve spoken to them or have never said a word to them. Don't underestimate the power of a sincere email… and a follow-up email.
Persistence will take you far!