Saint Louis University

Sarika Gupta

"Ask not what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."                          Howard Thurman

Sarika Gupta came to Saint Louis University as a Presidential Scholar from O'Fallon, Illinois. She participated in student government, serving among other positions as Chair of the Diversity Leadership Cabinet. She was particularly active in the Indian Students Association and the Hindu Students Council. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the Honors Pre-Health Society. Sarika was selected by the Political Science department for the Best Student Award in 2008. the year she graduated.

Though originally a pre-medical student, Sarika undertook majors in Political Science and International Studies out of interest. While she found her science classes stimulating, it was her social science classes that addressed her most deep-rooted interests in social justice.

From an early age, Sarika had traveled to India with her family and had witnessed extreme poverty. But, before her education at SLU, she lacked the categories and theories that would help her understand the social, political, and economic complexities of poverty. As a result of her political science classes, Sarika began to question her desire to attend medical school. She says, "I started to feel that instead of treating the illnesses of individual patients, I wanted to take up the challenge of addressing the underlying issues that plague society as a whole."

To figure out how to do this, Sarika undertook a summer internship with UNICEF's Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Unit in New York. Using a stipend she received as part of her Presidential scholarship, she traveled to India over winter break and worked with Deepalaya, a non-governmental organization in New Delhi. After graduation, she attended the London School of Economics where she is pursuing a Masters of Development Studies. She wants to help find practical solutions to issues related to third world poverty by working for an international humanitarian organization like UNICEF or by working directly with NGOs based in developing countries themselves.

Sarika concludes, "I can sincerely say that my time here at SLU has allowed me to come alive. The more I engrossed myself in my social science classes, in my extracurricular activities, in my work experiences, and in my faith, the more firmly I could hold on to my deepest convictions in the face of family, social, and cultural pressure pushing me toward medical school. My SLU education essentially opened my eyes to my true self and gave me the confidence to follow the deepest dreams in my heart."