A Student Perspective: Sanjana Venkat
Hometown: Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania
Undergraduate: Drexel University, 2019, Mathematics
Medical School: Drexel University College of Medicine, Class of ’23
Activites: Steering Coordinator at Salvation Army Clinic; Bridging the Gaps Community Scholar; Peer Mentor
Drexel does a great job of putting service and community engagement at the center of everything.
We have required community engagement with the Health Advocacy Practicum (HAP), but there are so many opportunities, like the Health Outreach Project (HOP), to get involved in the community. I think that because HOP is a large student-run clinic network, it really speaks to that.
I came in as a first-year wanting to get involved, so I applied to volunteer through HOP and was assigned to the Salvation Army Clinic. In my second year, I was promoted to steering coordinator. I was really excited to figure it out and guide it, and then the pandemic hit. We shut down completely, but then got back up and running on telemedicine protocols. Our patients had both social and technological limitations, but we found ways to make it work. Later, I sat on a committee to guide the reopening of the clinics.
If you’re somebody that’s focused on advocacy and has a deep interest in engaging with the community around you, Drexel is a wonderful place to do that.
I think Philadelphia is a wonderful place to make a difference. It’s a city with a lot of need and one with a lot of resilience. Being a health care student in Philadelphia really gives you a perspective that will serve you, not only as a physician and someone who serves others, but just as a human being.
I hope to continue pursuing patient advocacy as a resident and physician.
When I was looking at residency programs, I focused on those that prioritized giving back and engaging with the community. I matched in a pediatrics residency at Northwestern University. The community engagement part of Drexel is what really drew me to my residency program and sparked my interest moving forward in my career.
As a physician, you’re using mathematical modeling and an analytical mind, but your cause is so much bigger than yourself — your cause is to serve.
My father is a physician, so I grew up around health care. I was very open-minded. I wanted to figure it out for myself and see if there was anything else that caught my interest. I started college as a math major, but I started to realize how much I needed a social aspect to what I was doing. I felt that the cross-section between the STEM world, mathematics and medicine is where my interests really lie.