Posted March 25, 2012

Faces of Temple: Akhila Vasthare

Name: Akhila Vasthare

Year: Fourth year

School: School of Medicine

Hometown: Marlton, N.J.

Why I chose Temple: "I was looking for a school where I would not only receive a really great medical education, but where the university interacted with their surrounding community and really worked not only to improve health, but to improve social services and have a close-knit community. I really found that when I came to interview at Temple."

Transformative moment: "Medical school is such a dynamic four years. Your first year is overwhelming. Then it gets exciting. Serving in a hospital, you picture yourself as a physician in the future. I had decided I wanted to be a pediatrician. But by my third year, part of me was wondering what exactly we're doing in the hospital. People have a lot of chronic problems. It's like we were putting a Band-Aid on a wound and sending them back out into the community. I realized that if I was going to go on with medicine in my life, I needed to have a foot in the community and have an impact on people's lives outside the hospital. I wanted to create a project to understand more about the lives of middle-school kids in immigrant families and who they are. I applied for an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship and got a grant to work at Southwark, a K-8 school in South Philadelphia, a school whose makeup is extremely diverse — nearly 75 percent of students identify as Asian or Hispanic. Every Wednesday, I lead an after-school yoga class to help reduce anxiety and stress and promote physical wellness. After that, we work together to prepare a healthy snack. It's time consuming and challenging, but I love it. I've learned from the kids at Southwark that it's important to be invested in your community. That's why I'm here. That's what I hope to continue to do for the rest of my career."