Empowering Global Citizens: The Essential Role of Financially Accessible Study Abroad Programs

Empowering Global Citizens: The Essential Role of Financially Accessible Study Abroad Programs

Kamal Amirneni

July 10, 2024

By Stephanie Godward, Communications and Marketing Director, College of Arts & Sciences

Kamal Amirneni’s aspiration to one day become a physician who provides compassionate care to his medical patients drives him to double major in both Biology and Spanish, ensuring he’ll be able to communicate clearly with a diverse range of people.

On this pre-med track with a minor in public health, Kamal has personally experienced the transformative impact of studying abroad, so much so that he is now pursuing an all-new language, Hindi, to make sure that he can speak fluently with an even wider range of diverse patients whom he will one day serve.

Originally from Aldie, VA, Kamal is a Brown Fellows scholar who participated in a medical Spanish immersion program in Buenos Aires, Argentina last summer—a pivotal experience that would have been unattainable without multiple scholarships from UofL, including those from the Classical and Modern Languages department, the Brown Fellows program, and the David Hershberg Scholarship.

Kamal chose Buenos Aires for its unique offering of medical Spanish immersion, a course naturally unavailable in a UofL classroom setting or here in the United States. Immersed in a Spanish-speaking hospital environment, he gained practical knowledge that extended beyond classroom learning.

"Being in a hospital where people spoke only Spanish was crucial for understanding how words are used in real life. Shadowing in another language would only be possible while abroad," Kamal shared, highlighting the unique opportunities study abroad programs offer. The real-life application of his language skills in a medical setting allowed him to grasp medical terms and colloquial language that are essential for effective patient care.

This immersive experience was not only academically enriching but also deeply personal, as he lived with a host family who helped him navigate cultural nuances and language barriers, creating lasting bonds.

Currently studying Hindi in Jaipur, India, Kamal continues to pursue language skills to connect with patients from diverse backgrounds in the U.S.

"Just like with Spanish, I want to connect with Hindi-speaking patients who might not know English," he said.

His experiences abroad have also shaped his aspirations to work on both individual patient care and broader health policies, inspired by Argentina's public health initiatives.

"Being part of Argentina's public healthcare system cemented my desire to work on health policy," Kamal noted. He observed firsthand the benefits of public health initiatives in Buenos Aires. This experience not only enriched his academic knowledge but also influenced his career aspirations, driving him to contribute to health policy reforms in the future.

Reflecting on his study abroad experiences, Kamal emphasized the critical role of financial support in making such opportunities accessible.

"My personal experience was immensely transformative and would not have been possible without the various scholarships I received," he stated. "Any donations that allow students to have these experiences are incredibly impactful."

Kamal's story highlights the profound impact of study abroad programs, demonstrating how they expand students' horizons, enhance their academic and professional skills, and foster a deeper understanding of global interconnectedness.

“When I think back on my study abroad experience, what really jumps out are the dinners that we shared just chatting about so many things,” he said of his host family in Argentina. “When you're able to connect with locals of somewhere you're staying, it provides such a great perspective of what it is like to not just live in that country, but to be a global citizen, to understand a shared humanity, and also be able to practice my language skills by talking with them in only Spanish.”

To support making study abroad programs accessible for all students, consider making a donation by clicking here.