Akshayaa Chittibabu is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut studying biology, global health, and Spanish. A published poet, an artist, and a speaker of five languages, Akshayaa is an aspiring physician with an abiding interest in addressing the enduring disparities in access to health care that exist both here and abroad -- a path inspired by her community-based research and volunteer work in Tamil Nadu, India, where she witnessed first-hand the lack of access to health care facing many rural South Indians. Through the UConn Office of Community Outreach and UConn Global Medical Brigades, Akshayaa has volunteered in healthcare settings ranging from Philadelphia to Ecuador and Panama. Akshayaa currently volunteers with the UConn Collegiate Health Service Corps, where she works with underserved populations in surrounding communities to create and deliver health education lessons in both English and Spanish. On campus, Akshayaa is a tutor at the University Writing Center, an editorial assistant for the Social Science & Medicine peer-reviewed journal, and a research intern at the UConn School of Medicine's Department of Community Medicine. She is also an active slam poet and CFO of UC Poetic Release and Performance Crew, the UConn spoken word collective and slam poetry team.
I have always wanted to be a physician, and this passion has led me to develop an awareness of the various healthcare problems faced by people all over the world. Doing medical service in rural Panama, India and Ecuador, as well as domestically, has exposed me to many of the problems caused by lack of healthcare access and made me want to work towards solving them. One of these problems is the lack of access to cervical screening in rural India, which has led to thousands of rural Indian women dying annually. In fact, India shoulders close to one third of the world's cervical cancer burden, even though it is such a preventable disease. Over the past year, I developed a research project focused on assessing the constraints and knowledge of south Indian villagers regarding cervical cancer screening. During the summer of 2016, I designed and implemented a community health education program to educate village men and women from 26 different villages, with the goal of improving cervical cancer awareness and screening usage in these villages. I plan to continue my research and service work by implementing further measures in even more rural areas in India.