Transforming Healthcare Initiatives & Lives in India
CU Denver Alumna Creates Pathways to Educational Partnerships
Dr. Sharmila Anand, an alumna of the University of Colorado Denver, is a born social entrepreneur, doctor, and an inspired educator. Her collaborations nurture education and healthcare environments where people can reach their optimal potential as well as learn how to effectively serve the greater community.
“I’m from a family of medical professionals, and have always seen that it is good to serve people,” said Dr. Anand. “Healthcare and education go hand in hand. In educating a girl child, who in turn educates the children of the family, you have helped an entire nation.” She added, “And you are building national assets.”
Social Entrepreneur Focused on Affordable Healthcare & Education
A graduate of CU Denver’s Business School, MBA/Health Administration, Dr. Anand brings a remarkable level of experience and skill sets to the table, and has been deeply immersed in the healthcare field in both India and the United States. She leads strategic initiatives for the Santosh group and is the Managing Director for SEHPL in Delhi and Chennai, India.
Beyond her professional experience and credentials, Dr. Anand also has a natural gift for connecting people and organizations in ways that serve to elevate individual and group efforts. Based on her field experience in India, and passion for building healthy communities, she believes there is a great demand for professional skills in healthcare in India, the second most populous country in the world.
“When you’re on a roller coaster ride alone, it can be scary and full of unknowns. When you’re riding a roller coaster with friends or teammates, it becomes exciting, an adventure,” Anand explained.
With entrepreneurial thinking, it is possible to help multiple organizations by bringing people together, forming collaborative partnerships, and thereby creating more opportunities for professionals and students, she explained.
“It’s never about ‘me’, it’s about ‘we’. When you’re focusing on what is working and the inherent strengths, the product is better than anything that could be accomplished alone.”
Bringing CU Denver Experience to India
Recalling her own experiences as a mother and a student, Anand said, “I had the opportunity to come to the University of Colorado Denver and study as a mom, and it is natural to give back. Other students can benefit from this type of learning away from home.” Anand’s daughter watched online while her mother graduated from CU Denver in 2008 and said, “Mommy, I want to be like you.”
She elaborated on the current healthcare system in India and how educators and institutions can make a difference in providing healthcare to rural communities and meeting the demands for a highly trained workforce.
“People can’t always take time off from work or afford healthcare; so, we can bring our resources, students, and faculty to them, to reach the unreached.”
Dr. Anand noted that experiential learning, which she experienced as a student in the CU Denver Business School, takes students beyond the classroom; it makes them more receptive to learning, more confident, and better equipped to make a meaningful impact in society. She cited a single example as representative of a partnership established with General Electric that provides a one-year program for training imaging technicians. One of the female students seized the educational opportunity, and it resulted in her ability to earn a good income, invest in her family, and be a good role model for her children. Imagine multiplying that effect by thousands of students and you can envision the positive changes in societies.
Developing Collaborations Between CU & Indian Universities
Your college years at the University of Colorado Denver can leave lasting impressions, rich in knowledge gained and friendships developed. More than 100,000 university alumni make their home in Colorado, throughout the United States, and in diverse global regions.
“The reason I’m back here is because everything I received is what I want others to have; I could never thank the University of Colorado Denver enough,” said Anand on her recent visit.The opportunities did indeed extend beyond the classroom. While earning her MBA in health administration, CU Denver awarded funding for her to attend a health sciences conference in Breckenridge, Colorado. Anand said she learned many valuable lessons, including “how to function well in a professional environment”: she met her future employer at the conference, landed an internship, and ultimately became Associate Director, Department of Medicine, at National Jewish Hospital, Colorado.
“I graduated in 2008 and am here again to discuss potential partnerships,” said Anand. “I’m talking to people on campus as though I had never left—it feels like a home away from home.” Right from the start, Anand felt supported by a variety of offices and organizations that assist international students at the University of Colorado Denver. “I received support from the Office of International Affairs, the Indian students’ organization, and Blair Gifford and Linda Brooker in the Business School groomed, helped, and nudged me along.”
She also felt that she received a “personalized education” because of the way that students can connect with professors and staff.
“It was a foreign land for me, but it did not feel foreign at all. I’m grateful to the University of Colorado Denver, which is why I want CU Denver to come to India; many people can benefit.”
During her visit, Anand met with faculty from the Business School, School of Public Affairs, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Colorado School of Public Health, and CU Skaggs School of Pharmacy. Discussions surrounding partnership development and study abroad programs between CU Denver | CU Anschutz Medical Campus and Santosh | SEHPL are underway. Potential avenues include health entrepreneurship, dental and public health, hospital administration, and pharmacy. Exploration is also in progress for online programs in nursing and health communications. She aims at building CU’s strategic presence in India, so that many more students can access the educational opportunity that she “was fortunate to have received.”
Anand expressed interest in the CU Anschutz “Mini-Med” program, which gives high school students a truer idea of what it means to be a healthcare professional. “I am curious to see if we can open up something like this in India, which is what I do with pre-med students. These kinds of activities empower young minds, and help young people to know their true path early in life. Bringing different cohorts together enables them to connect and learn together.”
From being the young girl who “could not sit still in a chair” to a business leader and educator who innovates programs on a global scale, Sharmila Anand has always championed communities of healthcare learning and discovery.
“When students come together, they can create so many possibilities. They learn about the subtleties of cultural differences, about how to administer the business of healthcare, and they share in developing healthcare solutions for all sections of society.”
“I believe in giving and in being a source,” said Anand. And, she added with a smile, “Come be a part of our Million Smiles journey.”
Learn more about Sharmila Anand: in.linkedin.com/in/sharmilaanand.
Read stories about international students and programs at the University of Colorado Denver | Anschutz Medical Campus in the OIA International Newsroom.