How Bhargavi Ammu, C’13, draws on the skills and multidisciplinary perspective she honed during her time as a Lipman Prize Fellow in her current role at the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Now a program analyst in the Office of HIV/AIDS at the U.S. Agency for International Development, Bhargavi Ammu, C’13, has pursued a path in global health and development since graduating from Penn in 2013.

Working in an interagency and intergovernmental space requires an ability to look across a wide breadth of disciplines and put the complex issues her team works with in context. Bhargavi honed that skill during her time as a Lipman Fellow.

“The experience of drawing on multiple disciplines from folks and learning to take several different viewpoints into account has made me a more empathetic and understanding leader,” she said.

As a Lipman Fellow, Bhargavi spent a year working with a team of 12 students from different schools at Penn to evaluate applications from more than 150 social impact organizations vying for the Lipman Family Prize. A student of the College of Arts and Sciences, Bhargavi collaborated with fellows from the School of Social Policy and Practice, the Graduate School of Education, and Wharton.

Together they rigorously researched the organizations applying for the Lipman Family Prize, studied the social landscape in which they were working, and identified models and scalability of projects.

“It was right up my alley since I knew I wanted a structured program where I could engage in philanthropy and social impact, and meet other like-minded people who were interested in gaining leadership skills,” Bhargavi said.

Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Real-World Application

As a Health and Societies major, Bhargavi found it particularly rewarding when she had the opportunity to meet the finalists in person.

“Being able to discuss the social enterprise’s work with the people who were applying really put the academics of what I was learning about global health, development, social impact, philanthropy, and nonprofits into perspective,” she said.

Lipman Prize Fellows at Lipman Prize Ceremony
Bhargavi caught up with fellow Lipman Family Prize Fellow alumni Haywood Perry, Renata Cobbs-Fletcher, and Mifta Chowdhury at last year’s ceremony.

Bhargavi continues to review Lipman Prize applications from social impact organizations and returns to campus for the awards ceremony every year, both to support the Prize and maintain the lifelong connections she made with other fellows and the mentorship she developed with Umi Howard, Director of the Lipman Family Prize.

“Umi has a special gift for recognizing strengths and is able to pull that out of each of the fellows year after year,” Bhargavi said. “He treated all of the fellows not only as peers who were there to make thoughtful contributions, but also as individuals who he genuinely wanted to see grow over the course of the fellowship.”

“Perhaps what I most valued was that genuine endeavor to create the next generation of social impact thought and implementation leaders. I owe a lot of my path over the past couple of years to the Prize and its impact on me.”

Posted: April 12, 2017

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