Ritika- from BWSD to Villanova Graduate - SHIM

Something is always happening at SHIM

Ritika- from BWSD to Villanova Graduate

Ritika college graduation 2023Many of the teens in our Youth Mentoring program are inspired to set big goals for their futures. Ritika, who graduated from Baldwin High School in 2019, is on track to achieve her dream of becoming a doctor.

Ritika was always interested in medicine and wanted to be a doctor at an early age. She was inspired to explore this path after witnessing the importance of accessibility to healthcare as a child. Growing up in Nepal, healthcare wasn’t accessible to everyone, and Ritika watched her mother struggle with diabetes. As she became more interested in the medical field as a profession, Ritika decided that she would like to become a doctor in an underserved community.

After graduating from the pre-med program at Villanova University, Ritika is now looking forward to attending Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. While she doesn’t have a specific focus area, she is entering with an open mind and looking forward to learning more. She’s excited to be at an osteopathic institution, as she is interested in the holistic and preventative nature of medicine.

Ritika’s experience in college was unique. As a minority student on a majority white campus, she felt different from her fellow students. Many came from upper class families and had a wealth of cultural capital, making Ritika feel out of place. Ritika was the first person in her family to move away for college, and she didn’t know what to expect. When she first moved into the dorm, she took note of the supplies her roommate had purchased, then she went to Target to purchase similar items.

“I’m creating this path for myself, paving my own way for me and for the people who will come after me.”

One of the reasons that Ritika chose Villanova was for its emphasis on volunteering and community building. It isn’t a big school, so Ritika was confident that she would get to know her professors and peers more deeply. Despite this emphasis on community, Ritika was disappointed by some of the diversity training she experienced there. While one skit was meant to offer diverse perspectives, the inclusion of racist questions asked by actors planted in the audience made Ritika question her decision to attend Villanova. This insensitive delivery of a well-intentioned message was triggering to Ritika.

Even though she was the first in her family to go away to school, Ritika felt more prepared thanks to her participation in SHIM’s Youth Mentoring program. She attributes some of her success to the academic support and individualized help she received, including understanding financial aid packages and revising college essays. Ritika also appreciated participating in cultural experiences, such as plays and concerts for which she otherwise would have lacked access. Youth Mentoring’s medical classes reaffirmed her desire to go into medical school, as did volunteering with Global Links.

For Ritika, medical school feels like a whole new experience. Understanding loans, finding an apartment, and paying for utilities are new to her. While she had a full scholarship for undergraduate school, Ritika is now facing the staggering costs of medical school. She’s worried about finding scholarships and securing loans. Ritika is reaching out to the financial aid office of her new school to gain insight but is also looking for advice from our community.

“Being in the Youth Mentoring program taught me to seek help when I need it. It made me realize it’s ok to ask for help. This is a really important quality I learned from Youth Mentoring.”

Ritika keeps in touch with her mentors and values her ability to reach out when she needs help. Last summer, her mentor connected her to a researcher at Magee-Women’s Research Institute. Ritika at college 2022

“I gained valuable insights into her research. Her passion for utilizing research to help underserved communities inspired me greatly and played a significant role in broadening my perspective before applying to medical school.”

Like many of the families we serve, Ritika’s family benefited from SHIM programs in a variety of ways. They participated in food pantries and her brother worked for SHIM’s After School program. Ritika even volunteered at the food pantry while she was in high school.

Recently, Ritika’s father joined the SHIM staff as a driver. Ritika notes that her father is the happiest he’s

ever been at a job, proud to have a desk in an office to call his own. Seeing his excitement at this accomplishment gave Ritika perspective. She acknowledges that things in her life have been easier because of the sacrifices that her parents made.

Ritika is thankful for SHIM and values the way the organization helps people realize their full potential by showing them opportunities that are available to them. She loves the way people in need are the focus as we concentrate on giving them the tools they need to succeed.

“The guidance and opportunities I received through SHIM have been invaluable, and I am confident that your efforts continue to make a significant difference in the lives of many young individuals like myself.”

Support our youth programs today by donating HERE.

Translate »