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Actions & Impact

Read about UWC-USA students, alumni, and faculty who are making a difference locally and globally.

Global Caregiver
Posted 03/01/2015 02:00PM

Rashna Ginwalla '95 is building her entire medical career around a desire to bring her skills—and her voice—to those who are most in need.

Originally, she planned to be a heart surgeon. However, more than four years into her residency, Rashna realized it was the wrong path. "I love heart surgery, but it would never give me time to pursue my interest in international health work," says Rashna, who represented India as a UWC-USA student.

Rashna changed gears and is now a fellow in trauma and emergency surgery at the University of Arizona Medical Center. It was in this role that she achieved a long-time dream: volunteering with Médecins Sans Frontières, the international emergency relief organization. Rashna spent a month in 2012 as a trauma surgeon in Nigeria, providing free emergency care to some of Nigeria's poorest people.

"I wanted to work with MSF for a long time," she says. "I wrote to them as an undergraduate, but they didn't have a role for me yet. I kept pestering; I just wanted to work with them!"

Rashna says she chose MSF because "they don't stay quiet. They bear witness, and they'll make a political statement."

She's not one to stay quiet, either. In addition to her surgery fellowship, Rashna is pursuing a master's degree in public health. "Physicians have so much power we don't use," she says. "We need to get in the faces of policy-makers and say, 'Come to my ER and see the experiences of my patients, then tell me what is good for them.'"

Eventually, Rashna says she'd like to merge her experience as a doctor with a career in international health policy "to change things at a higher level." For now, though, she's focused on saving one patient at a time. She also hopes to do another mission with MSF.

"I want to spend time providing service to people who otherwise wouldn't be able to get it," Rashna says.

Meet Mzwakithi Shongwe, '12, who came to UWC-USA from Swaziland.

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UWC-USA is one of 16 UWCs on five continents. Other countries that have UWCs include Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Swaziland, and Wales.

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UWC-USA students perform more than 18,700 hours of service every year through our association with 25 community partners. More than 2,500 people in Las Vegas, N.M. and the surrounding community have benefited from service projects led by UWC-USA students.

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UWC-USA has 228 students representing more than 70 countries, from Armenia to Zimbabwe. Eleven students come from countries identified as conflict regions. Representation within our student body includes: Africa 10%, Asia 28%, Europe 29%, North America 23%, South America 10%.

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Students don’t apply directly to the school; they are selected by committees in their home countries based on academic achievement, leadership, and curiosity about and involvement with global events and cultures.

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Philanthropist Shelby Davis has created a $40 million endowment that provides 50 U.S. students with full scholarships to attend a UWC every year.

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Our more than 3,357 UWC-USA alumni are spread across the globe: North America 26%, Latin America and Caribbean 16%, Africa 10%, Middle East 6%, Asia 14%, Europe 21%, Pacific 2%

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UWC-USA offers the International Baccalaureate diploma program. Students can choose from IB classes in 28 subjects – a remarkable number given the size of the school.

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