By Jamie Hansen, Communications Manager
Shuvi Jha (’24) is a computer science major and co-president of Stanford’s Global Health Student Council, a student organization that brings together nearly 200 undergraduate students interested in global health.
As a new academic year gets underway at Stanford, we interviewed Jha to discuss her experiences with global health at Stanford, along with her ideas for how interested students can get involved with the global health community.
What drew you to global health?
My passion for global health stems from my childhood experiences living in India and visiting my ancestral village where a significant portion of my family still resides. These experiences granted me a profound understanding of the far-reaching consequences of industrialization, globalization, and colonization on rural communities. Specifically, I saw firsthand how these forces could contaminate water supplies, escalate pollution levels, and give rise to various health challenges.
I firmly believe that global health issues transcend geographic boundaries and are a universal concern. I’m particularly interested in studying the interplay between historical narratives and contemporary politics to see how they collaboratively mold health outcomes worldwide. I’m also interested in incorporating intergenerational trauma within notions of health and wellbeing among BIPOC communities.
What’s been your most meaningful global health experience at Stanford?
One of my most meaningful global health experiences at Stanford has been my active involvement with the Stanford Global Health Student Council (GHSC). Being a part of GHSC has allowed me to collaborate with like-minded peers and participate in structured discussions centered around identity-conscious and critical perspectives in the realm of global health.
It’s clear that global health transcends the boundaries of the natural sciences, that it is intrinsically linked with the social sciences. As a member of GHSC, I’ve had the privilege of engaging with members from diverse disciplines such as economics, human biology, computer science, anthropology, and more. Their unique viewpoints have enriched my understanding of healthcare – I learn so much every meeting!
Furthermore, I deeply appreciate the GHSC’s commitment to addressing the often-overlooked issues affecting the Global South. The council actively initiates projects that prioritize the health and well-being of BIPOC communities while consistently considering questions of positionality, research ethics, and etiquette.
How do you hope to incorporate global health in your future plans/career?
In my career, I plan to venture into academia, driven by a passion for integrating global health principles into various interdisciplinary subjects. I’m interested in applying decolonial theory to subjects as diverse as algorithmic discrimination, occupational well-being, and climate justice and food sovereignty.
Through research, teaching, and community organizing, I hope to contribute to a broader discourse on global health, emphasizing the importance of decolonial perspectives and pushing for positive change in the years to come.
What is your favorite global health course you’ve taken?
While it might not be categorized as a traditional global health course, an Anthropology class I took with Professor Sharika Thiranagama, “Ethnicity and Violence,” deeply impacted my perspective on global health.
Through Professor Thiranagama’s class, I gained invaluable insights into the complex interplay of ethnicity and violence— and their far-reaching consequences. This experience significantly shaped my current approach and values system in the context of global health. I recognized the importance of exploring issues of violence, racism, and discrimination as intrinsic components of healthcare challenges, backed with decolonial and political theory.
Do you have any advice for other students wanting to get involved on campus?
Here’s some advice I have in mind:
- Join the Global Health Student Council! It’s an amazing way to connect with like-minded peers, engage in meaningful discussions, and actively participate in global health initiatives.
- Don’t limit yourself to a single academic track. Take as many interdisciplinary classes as you can! There’s so much to learn from everyone and everything.
- Reflect on your positionality. Recognize your own background, privileges, and biases because they influence the way you approach research and interact with communities.
- Engage with your professors.
- Ask questions!