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Alumni Spotlight

Read about this month’s International Studies Alumni Spotlight. Alumni were asked to share how their International Studies major or minor has influenced their path after graduating from the University of Michigan.

April 2018

Parisa Soraya

BS International Studies (Global Environment and Health); BS Spanish '15

Hometown: Lake Orion, MI

University of Michigan Affiliations: Central Student Government, optiMize, EMRAP (Emergency Medical Research Associate Program), Spoon University, Persian Students Association, UROP

“The International Studies major let me dive into the health/medical field more broadly than my pre-medical coursework allowed. I was able to supplement my courses in physiology, biochemistry, and physics with a broader understanding of health issues from medical anthropology, human trafficking, and implementing solutions for global health equity.

Although I had originally intended on pursuing medical school, as I advanced in my International Studies major, I became more intrigued by the complex issues that brought patients to hospitals in the first place, and how they were managing their conditions at home and over the course of their lives. It became apparent to me that physicians might not have the capacity to take all of these issues to hand, which made me interested in advancing my studies in Public Health.

Upon completing my undergraduate degree, I was accepted into University of Michigan's Master of Health Informatics program. I was able to take my societal understanding of health issues that I learned in International Studies and put it to practice by learning how healthcare and technology can meld together to form sustainable solutions in today's changing society. I am now the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of a startup I founded during my Master's called Find Your Ditto. We work with hospitals and health care institutions to offer a mobile platform that connects patients living with the same chronic conditions locally for on-demand, in-person peer support. Over one-half of all adults live with a chronic illness -- anything from diabetes, depression, cancer – and our goal is to help reduce the isolation and loneliness that is often felt among these individuals.

I believe that the International Studies major is made up of individuals who want to think critically and deeply about issues that affect vulnerable populations everywhere. My most important piece of advice to students is to take the concepts you are learning about in class and put it to action. You don't need fancy technology or a huge budget to start making an impact on the issues you care most about.

To learn more about my startup, visit www.findyourditto.com.”

Read about past International Studies Alumni Spotlights: