Aditi Shastry: Lending a Helping Hand in Davis and Abroad

Meet Aditi Shastry, a third year at UCD, who, like many other Aggies on campus, is pressed for time due to her involvement on campus. She is involved in Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity, Project RISHI, a non-profit organization that works towards the sustainable development of rural Indian villages, and Watsi, a club on campus that aims to fund healthcare for patients all around the globe—and all while studying Biomedical Engineering! I recently met with Aditi for an interview to talk about her time at Davis and involvement in Project RISHI as director of finance (rural India social and health improvement). 

What about Project RISHI made you want to get so involved?

My freshman year, I was just trying to meet new people and Project RISHI seemed like a great way to do it. I liked the idea of creating sustainable solutions to issues in rural areas, and being able to implement what I learned in the classroom to the country where my family lives. It is a very applicable way for me to stay close to my heritage, but also use my science and engineering skills in a way that benefits others. 

What does Project RISHI do?

Project RISHI has a national board and chapters at all the UCs and a couple other universities, like Northwestern and Purdue. Each chapter partners with a village that has a need, and creates a sustainable solution to their need during the school year. Then over the summer, we go to India and implement our solution. Our chapter's village is located in South India in a state called Tamil Nadu. The village, Andimadam, has a lack of sanitation infrastructure so as a chapter we are working to alleviate that issue, as well as conduct water testing and hygiene education. We partner with the NGO Sahaya International with the help of a UC Davis faculty member, Dr. Koen Van Rompay. 

Tell me about your experience in India, working with Project RISHI this past summer. 

This past summer was so much fun! Our trip to Andimadam, Tamil Nadu lasted two weeks and we were able to work with school teachers and members of a women's self-help group to assess sanitation and hygiene practices in the village. We conducted surveys and created a hygiene curriculum for the school which we were able to implement during our time there. We also got to go boating and visit a thousand-year-old temple!

Can anyone be a part of Project RISHI? How can the readers get involved?

Anybody can apply to be part of Project RISHI! All majors and years are welcome to apply! [You can apply to Project RISHI here]

How do you balance all your service involvement with BME? It seems pretty tough. 

It is definitely a huge time commitment to be part of everything that I'm in, but I have a very thorough calendar that I keep to make sure I don't forget about any of my commitments. It gets difficult some weeks, but I always put school first. 

Lightning Round Questions:

Best stand at the Farmer's Market?

APPLE JUICE.

Favorite place to study on campus? 

The ARC Starbucks.

Best Boba place in Davis? 

ShareTea.

Favorite memory at UCD thus far?

A spontaneous midnight trip to San Francisco with housemates!

Best way to relax after a busy week?

Eat Trader Joe's microwaveable Paneer Tikka Masala, then sleep.

What the people really want to know... Favorite show to binge watch at the moment?

Jane the Virgin in anticipation of the Season 3 premiere next week!