Where are you working now and what are you up to?
I'm working at the Environmental and Occupational Science Institute, a joint department between Rutgers and UMDNJ as a Research Assistant. I work under several different doctors or PhDs on projects that research the health effects of variables such as air pollution or working a night shift, using participants from the local community. I am also currently in the interview phase of the application process for medical schools.
Why and when did you join EWB-USA Rutgers?
I joined freshmen year. Initially I joined because I was sort of intrigued by being able to travel and help people in a different part of world. I wasn't born here, I was born in India and I like traveling to new places. I travelled to Seattle my second semester for the international conference and it helped me to realize how much opportunity there is for our chapter to do great things. A professor from MIT was talking about a stove project in India and I never had even heard about the technology. We also listened to Bernard Amadei, the founder of EWB-USA, whose speech was very inspiring. The group of us that went to that conference ended up being the next leaders of the chapter. The people that are involved in this organization are very down to earth and motivated to help people with the skills they are gaining, even though they are not engineers yet. They enjoy coming up with solutions to help people.
What did you do in EWB-USA Rutgers?
Freshmen year I was a general member, and I did bits and pieces of this and that. I helped out with the Thailand project. Sophomore year I was the secretary, and became the Guatemala project lead second semester until the end of Junior year. Senior year I became the president. As Guatemala project lead in the beginning, it was very daunting. There were many times when I didn't know what to do, but travelling and getting experience helped a lot in understanding the role.
What is your most memorable EWB-USA Rutgers moment?
I have a couple. One of them is from the second trip [to Guatemala]I travelled on, during a meeting with the water committee and the travel team, and we were presenting to them the alternatives we had prepared. The funny thing was the translation that was occurring, because we were talking amongst ourselves in English, and our translator, Ben, was talking slowly and trying to explain all of the different parts in Spanish. Meanwhile, a translator from the water committee had to translate the Spanish into Quiche. It was interesting to see how despite the huge language barrier, we were able to discuss interesting points, address each other's questions and come to conclusions. Another favorite moment for me personally was receiving the email from Cathy Leslie [about winning the EWB-USA Premier Chapter Award], and I sent it out to everyone even though it was supposed to be confidential. That moment when we were on the stage passed by so quickly. They took the picture, and we were done. But looking back at the picture, I realize how big our group was and how it was a team effort. We were able to achieve something so great because everybody was so motivated.
What about the current EWB-USA Rutgers surprises you?
It doesn't surprise me that you guys are awesome. I'm definitely impressed. It's always a little surprising to see that students who haven't gone through the same scenarios we did [such as being present to see the projects start] as are still so dedicated and motivated. More of us travelled during my years, for example, because there were less people applying. Also, although it doesn't surprise me, but I think it's great that people hang out aside from the organizational aspect, develop friendships and stay in touch.
Our chapter would like to thank all partners and donors for their support. Successful projects would be impossible without the hard work and dedication of our international partners and NGO’s, specifically Appropriate Technology Collaborative (Guatemala Project), and Endelevu Community Development Services (Kenya Project), as well as the Camden Agricultural Coalition in Camden, New Jersey. The EWB-Rutgers Student Chapter also greatly thanks all of the project sponsors, including the Paramus Rotary Club, Caterpillar, RC Andersen LLC, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin for supporting the projects’ financial endeavors. In addition, the chapter acknowledges and is grateful to all donors no matter the size of the contribution. Thank you all!