Student Spotlight: Sara Al-Rishawi

Student Spotlight: Sara Al-Rishawi
Student Spotlight: Sara Al-Rishawi

Name: Sara Al-Rishawi
Instagram handle: @saraalrishawi
Majors and Minors: Global Studies and Clinical Psychology with minors in Arabic, Humanities in Medicine, and Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Pre-Health track.
Hometown: Lincoln, NE
Year at UNL: Junior (3rd Year)

Favorite book and why:
My favorite book is "The President's Gardens" By Muhsin Al-Ramli because it effortlessly combines historical facts with personal stories, providing a vivid picture of life in war-torn Iraq through people like Tariq, Abdullah, and Ibrahim (main characters of the novel). Through their experiences, the novel vividly captures the complexities of Iraqi nationhood and the enduring resilience of the
human spirit amidst almost ceaseless war and oppression.

Favorite movie and why:
My favorite movie is "The Good Nurse" because as someone interested in healthcare, it dived into the unsettling true story of a nurse's crimes, sparking contemplation about patient safety, trust in healthcare providers, and the ethical nuances within the field that hit close to home for me.

Why these majors and minors?
I chose to pursue a double major in Global Studies and Clinical Psychology, along with minors in Arabic, Humanities in Medicine, and Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, as part of my pre-health track journey. My decision stemmed from a desire to broaden my understanding of healthcare beyond the traditional sciences, incorporating critical thinking and writing skills while delving into the intricacies of healthcare systems, governmental policies, and community dynamics. The interdisciplinary nature of Global Studies, coupled with the flexibility to focus on themes like global development, service, and human rights, aligns perfectly with my aspirations of contributing to healthcare and helping marginalized populations. The minors in Humanities in Medicine and Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs offered valuable insights into the historical and social contexts of healthcare, providing a foundation for addressing systemic issues. Pursuing an Arabic minor not only validated my language proficiency but also deepened my cultural understanding, essential for working
with diverse patient populations. Moreover, my interest in supporting refugee communities, inspired by my heritage and upbringing, drove my choice of the Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs minor, as it allows me to learn from personal experiences and advocate for marginalized groups. Overall, my academic
coursework allows me to approach healthcare challenges from a holistic perspective, integrating various disciplines to foster social justice and equitable healthcare access.

Some of the classes that have truly stood out to me are ones like Medical Ethics (PHIL 213), where we dove into the complexities of ethical dilemmas in healthcare, engaging in thought-provoking discussions that challenged my perspectives. Another favorite of mine was The Public's Health (HMED 391), where I gained a deeper understanding of the historical context behind healthcare policies and systems, shedding light on both the successes and shortcomings of our healthcare system. One class that really left a lasting impression on me was Refugees, Displaced Persons, and (Im)migrants in a Globalized World (GLST 350/HRHA 350) with Dr. Julia Reilly. This course was incredibly interactive, offering a unique mentorship component where we worked closely with refugees and immigrants to learn about their experiences firsthand and were able to work the Welcome Plan to better understand the process for sponsoring someone to come to the United States and how to support their transition into a new country.

For those exploring new majors or considering other options, my suggestion is to seize any opportunity that aligns with your interests early on in college. Don't hesitate to apply for experiences, as the worst outcome is typically a simple rejection. However, the potential benefits outweigh any perceived risks, as opportunities may not arise again or may become inaccessible due to unforeseen circumstances. Asking questions and reaching out for guidance is also crucial, as it can lead to valuable insights and connections.

As for why someone in another major should consider Global Studies, the multidisciplinary nature of the program is its greatest strength. With the flexibility to take classes from various departments, students can tailor their education to their interests without being burdened by unnecessary coursework. The program
fosters a diverse learning environment, bringing together students from different majors and backgrounds. Additionally, the study abroad and internship requirements provide invaluable real-world experiences that are essential for personal and professional growth.

Extracurricular Experiences:
Since my time at UNL, I've been fortunate to engage in a variety of experiences that have significantly enriched my college journey. One experience was my study abroad trip to Costa Rica in the winter of 2023 with the Honors Program. This immersive program allowed me to explore a region of the world I was not very familiar with and gain firsthand insight into their universal public healthcare
system. Witnessing the operations of nonprofit private hospitals and learning about Costa Rica's domestic and foreign policies, which enable the provision of free healthcare and education to its citizens without a military, was truly eye-opening and expanded my global perspective.

In addition to my study abroad experience, I am currently interning with the Lincoln Council for International Visitors through the Intern Foundry Program, also affiliated with the Honors Program. This internship has provided me with invaluable opportunities to learn more about Lincoln and Nebraska, while also contributing to program proposals for the Department of State.

Beyond these experiences, I've been actively involved in various extracurricular activities, including serving as an Oasis peer mentor, an Honors peer mentor, and President of the Middle Eastern and North African Student Association. Additionally, I have the privilege of working as an undergraduate Research Assistant for the HEARD lab. These involvements have not only allowed me to connect with incredible individuals but have also helped me fully develop both
hard and soft skills, while gaining extensive leadership experience.

I highly recommend that students from all majors explore extracurricular opportunities to diversify their skill sets, expose themselves to a wide range of situations, and expand their networks. These experiences not only enhance personal and professional development but also equip individuals with the
adaptability and resilience needed to navigate various challenges in the future.

Post-Graduation Plans:
My post-graduate plans involve pursuing graduate studies in healthcare with a focus on working with refugee populations. I hope to utilize my education and experiences to address healthcare disparities among marginalized communities, particularly refugees. Additionally, I aim to continue traveling the world through
my work, gaining firsthand experience in diverse healthcare settings and advocating for global healthcare equity.