Amazing Students Profiles

Smitha Ganeshan

Smitha Ganeshan

Smitha Ganeshan, a junior Honors student in anthropology and a future doctor, is taking her education beyond the boundaries of campus to volunteer for health care causes in the community and even around the world.


Johns Creek, Ga.

High School:

Northview High School

Degree objective:

B.A in anthropology

Expected graduation:

Spring 2014

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:

I have been involved with the Roosevelt Institute since my first semester at UGA. Through Roosevelt, I developed a proposal to help improve primary care services for low-income, uninsured and Medicaid patients in Athens. As an intern for the Athens Health Network and an undergraduate researcher in the College of Public Health, I am working to implement the policy proposal, which will hopefully culminate in a federal grant for Athens-Clarke County. I have also had the privilege of serving on Roosevelt’s board with some of the most talented individuals at UGA since winter of 2011. As director of the organization’s health and environmental center, I help students construct local and domestic policies ranging from improving air quality to standardizing E&M codes for hospitals.

My involvement in the Athens community has been a crucial part of my college career. I volunteer with Lunchbox Garden, a food literacy and nutrition education program at local elementary schools in Athens, and at the Athens Nurses Clinic, a free clinic that provides basic primary care services for uninsured patients in Athens.

During my tenure at UGA, I have been involved with a number of programs and organizations at UGA. I enjoy my involvement with the Dean William Tate Honor Society and Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Society. I am also honored to be the recipient of the Foundation Fellowship and a member of the Blue Key Society. I have benefited so much from the outstanding people I have met through these organizations and programs.

Finally, UGA has afforded me the opportunity to travel extensively during my undergraduate career. I spent a summer learning about international conflict at Oxford University in England and working with the World Health Organization’s Hospital and Research Center for Diabetes in India. In small community health clinics on the mountainside of Lima, Peru, and in the coffee farms of Managua, Nicaragua, I learned about the art of diagnosis and felt deeply the degree to which poverty inscribes itself in an individual’s health. This past summer, through the Honors in New York program, I worked with the Greater New York Hospital Association under Susan Waltman. I do not think I will ever have a boss who was (and still is) as invested in my personal and academic development as she was. I am excited to visit South Africa for spring break this year!

Current Employment:

I work part time as a student tour leader at the Visitors Center. The staff members, who challenge me to change the world, and my coworkers, who never cease to amaze me, make my job (in my opinion) unparalleled in any work environment. I really do work at the happiest place on campus.

Family Ties to UGA:

None that I know.

I chose to attend UGA because…

… of the UGA Honors Program and the Foundation Fellowship, which have given me a home away from home and provided me with the tools and support I need. Our Honors Program is unequalled in its ability to connect students with faculty, internships and job opportunities. When I visited the campus as a senior in high school, I fell in love with the magnolia trees on North Campus and this enormous research institution that still somehow manages to feel small and tight knit.

My favorite things to do on campus are…

1. Read a book on Herty Field.
2. Go to class!
3. Attend the dinner seminars and lunchbox lectures that the Honors Program organizes throughout the year.
4. Give campus tours.

When I have free time, I like…

When I take time for myself, I enjoy running through campus on a Sunday morning, trying new restaurants with friends in Athens and watching movies at Ciné.

The craziest thing I’ve done is…

One of the craziest things I’ve done is the time I attended one of Greece’s many riots in Syntagma Square. I remember standing next to a CNN photographer while he snapped the picture that I saw above the website’s headline story later.

My favorite place to study is…

… the main library. I get too distracted by the chatter in coffee shops and by the food in my pantry at home. When I have a test to study for or a paper to write, I usually make myself at home in the main library.

My favorite professor is…

I cannot possibly pick a favorite professor. I am so lucky to have worked personally with some of the best faculty UGA has to offer. In the College of Public Health, Monica Gaughan has been an academic adviser, research mentor, life coach and friend all in one for the past two years. From teaching me how to meditate to explaining the nuances and principles of health care reimbursement, she has enriched my college career beyond measure. My Honors faculty mentor, Daniel Promislow in the genetics department, has been a strong guiding force in my life. Since our first meeting during the first month of my freshman year, I have continually sought his advice and support. Jessica Hunt, David Williams, Phaedra Corso, Sylvia Hutchinson … I could probably go on forever. Any success I have achieved in my undergraduate career speaks directly to the incredible amount of support and encouragement I have received from my professors and mentors.

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with…

… my mother. No one inspires me to give more than I think I can give and work harder than I ever thought possible than my mom. She is a mother of three, CEO of a software development company and the caring daughter of my aging grandparents. Despite the stress, she never misses an opportunity to make me cry from laughter with her one-liners.

If I knew I could not fail, I would…

… learn how to draw or paint. I have no artistic ability whatsoever, but I am fascinated by art’s ability to capture the world around us.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to…

… open a clinic that delivers free, quality physical and mental health care to every patient that walks in the door. Also, I would visit every place on the “top 100 places to see before you die” list.

After graduation, I plan to…

I hope to earn a medical degree and a master’s in public policy. In the future, I would like to work as a physician policymaker.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be…

There are so many! I will never forget rafting down the Pacuare River in Costa Rica and calling the Dawgs in the most beautiful gorge I have ever seen … Go Dawgs. I will never forget sitting across the table from Dr. Nirav Shah, New York State commissioner of health, asking him questions about his health agenda that I had just spent eight weeks working on.