“There was something about this time — being there put your optimism into perspective,” said Harvard grad student Karima Ladhani of her time at the Aga Khan Hospital in Kenya.

Courtesy of Karima Ladhani

Nation & World

Grad students make impact

3 min read

Public service was key to opening up world of opportunities

After May, when exams are finished and final papers submitted, Harvard students take to the world. But where exactly do they go and what do they do once they get there?

Here is a sample of how students from the Law School (HLS), Kennedy School (HKS), the Business School (HBS), and the School of Public Health (HSPH) used the tools they sharpened at Harvard to help build a better world.

Karima Ladhani, who is working toward a doctor of science in global health and population at the Harvard School of Public Health, chose Mombasa, Kenya, as the place she’d make an impact. The Aga Khan Hospital was in dire need of better processes and procedures to help the very limited staff use time efficiently and diagnose patients as accurately as possible.

When she arrived in Mombasa to share her passion for public health, teaching, and volunteering, Ladhani was surprised at what she encountered. The challenges the nurses faced each day had slowly eroded their hopefulness and had taken a toll.

The months that she spent in Mombasa gave her a firsthand awareness of the public health challenges in small villages, and her time at Harvard equipped her with the know-how such that she was able to offer the nurses and doctors essential tools and recommendations to improve their procedures.

“There was something about this time — being there put your optimism into perspective,” Ladhani said.

Since her return to the U.S., there isn’t a day that passes when her experience doesn’t come to mind, she said. “Something happens and I stress about it, and my trip to Kenya puts everything into perspective.”

Toward the end of her summer, Ladhani also traveled to Seattle, Mexico, and Vancouver before heading to Boston to finish her degree.

Sudipta “Nila” Devanath, a 2L at HLS, spent her summer in Washington, D.C., where she worked for the Department of Justice as a legal intern in the Antitrust Division.

“I had the chance to work on the investigation of a potential hospital merger [and I] researched and presented findings on the geographic market, joint contracting, clinical efficiencies, financial integration, and high-risk management programs,” she said, viewing the experience as a career builder.

McArthur Pierre, an HBS student, spent his summer between Kampala, Uganda, and Nairobi, Kenya, as an investment associate where he searched out small businesses that needed help with financial modeling and raising capital. “I’ve always known about the opportunities in East Africa, but to be there and personally help small business owners succeed was something I’ll never forget,” he said.