Lakshmi – Childhood Memories Sparked a Lifelong Ambition to Serve

Some of my earliest memories are of my first return to my birthplace in India. My parents moved back there for 2½ years when I was in third grade. Clean, fresh water was scarce, as was food. Beggars in tatters walked past my home every day—many with arms and legs missing. It was a searing, transformative experience that stays with me always. My family isn’t wealthy, but, even at that age, I understood I had a lot to be grateful for. As a result, I have always sought a way to use my blessings in service to others.

In high school, I thought I would be a doctor, so I volunteered as an intern and worked at a clinic that provides free exams to children and organizes an obesity camp. I found that job very rewarding.

Once I graduated from college and had a real job in business, I was still asking, “How do I use my skills to help others?” That’s when I was excited to learn about a community health care center that ensures local families have access to affordable medical and dental services. As a new member of the center’s board, I saw first-hand that there are many ways to help the community and our neighbors. I love the strategic conversations and the organization. It is a phenomenal opportunity—one I am deeply grateful for.

Working for the center fueled my desire to do more; it also gave me an inside perspective on the challenges and intricacies of running a nonprofit organization. Suddenly, I found a new direction for my life—one that would allow me to leverage my skills to pursue my passion for helping others. I determined to find a place in the nonprofit world. So, I am headed to Duke this fall to study for an MBA in the university’s Health Sector Management program.

I think young people these days highly value social responsibility—not only corporate but individual contributions. This is our community. There are so many people who need help. We have been given certain talents. It’s our responsibility to give back. I would encourage everyone to find somewhere, some way to help one another—no matter how small the effort. Once you start, I can tell you from my own experiences, you won’t want to stop. It’s just so rewarding. We should all strive to be a Face of Service in Loudoun.