“Amazing Journey”: From CU Denver Student to Signing Educational Partnership
Global Health Study Abroad Program in Heart of India
“Sharmila is an inspiration,” declared Rohan Christie-David, Dean, Business School, during the October reception honoring University of Colorado Denver alumna Dr. Sharmila Anand, who was recently honored as one of thirteen “Heroines of Health” at the 70th World Health Assembly.
“She wants to give back to India as well as to CU Denver; she is a strong advocate for education and for the development of affordable health care options,” continued Dean Christie-David, as he and Dr. Anand signed the formal Memorandum of Understanding that fosters programs such as the new study abroad program, CU Denver in India: Global Health in the Heart of India.
For Dr. Anand, the process of arrival on campus as an international student to her return as an internationally-recognized guest has been “an amazing journey.”
The path from India to Denver began with online searches for American colleges that led her to the International Affairs and University websites. “I had originally wanted to become a cardiologist, but in India, clinical practice for a mother was not accepted easily. It was expected that I would only take care of my baby, which I did, but I also wanted to pursue my education.”
Ashile, her daughter, has always been an enthusiastic partner, and is one of her mother’s strongest supporters. While at CU Denver, Dr. Anand embraced everything that the university had to offer. She took 15 credits per semester toward an MBA in health administration and worked in several different jobs, including positions as a science tutor and a volunteer in the cardiology unit of Saint Joseph’s Hospital. CU Denver awarded her funding to attend a health sciences conference in Breckenridge, where she met her future employer and landed an internship at National Jewish Hospital, Colorado. She ultimately became Associate Director, Department of Medicine, at National Jewish.
Earning a degree at CU Denver taught Dr. Anand how to ask the important questions. “The more I questioned, the better it was. My main takeaway is that I never stop learning.” It also prepared her with the knowledge and skills to start new programs as Founder and Managing Director of SEHPL, a social enterprise focused on developing the next generation of health care professionals. She focuses on providing training skills for youth and women to prepare them for gainful employment, as well as creating Global Learning opportunities for young health professionals across the world.
“Because I received access to a good education, I’m able to take care of hundreds of children, not just one. I want to facilitate those opportunities for other women,” she explained.
“When a female student is educated, she is better equipped to assist her entire family.”
Seventy-five percent of the global workforce is comprised of women, yet they occupy only 4% of the top leadership positions. Dr. Anand feels that the growth of her school, as well as her awards, help her to reach a wider audience and collaborate with more like-minded individuals to address the changes required for creating a more balanced, productive environment.
More than 6.5 million skilled workers are needed in the overall health care field in India; there are only 300,000 trained workers available. She noted that in the past, the only available positions were for doctors and nurses. Now there are a variety of opportunities with positions that also pay well. Education can bridge the gap to meet these workforce demands.
“The lessons that young women and men are learning at our school can transfer to other countries and continents,” said Dr. Anand. “Woman have challenges in every global region. You have to look at them and choose whether to accept them as is, or work together, become stronger, and solve issues.”
Curiosity and a global perspective are encouraged in students at both SEHPL in India and CU Denver in Colorado. Having experienced study-travel opportunities when she was in school, Dr. Anand is a strong believer in the value of learning outside of the classroom.
“Beyond theory, reality is quite different out in a community,” she explained. In the development of the new study abroad program with the University of Colorado Denver, students are able to learn about health care assessments and practices first-hand and compare the different healthcare approaches of India and the United States.
Dr. Anand commented often that Denver feels like a second home.
“At the drop of a hat, if I get an opportunity, I pop back to visit the University of Colorado Denver. I am a global learner; there are so many valuable ideas that we can exchange worldwide.”
Through this open exchange, an exciting new educational partnership between SEHPL and CU Denver has emerged. In India and the U.S, even greater possibilities are now on the horizon for tomorrow’s heroines and heroes of health.
Learn more about Dr. Sharmila Anand: https://linkedin.com/in/sharmilaanand
Find out more about degree programs at the Business School, CU Denver.
Read stories about international students, scholars and programs at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus in the OIA International Newsroom.