Guest Blogger: Monica Mehta

Today we have a post from incoming freshman, Monica Mehta.  If you would like to be our next guest blogger just send an email to or leave a comment.

When I applied for admission to George Washington University’s BA/MD program, I envisioned myself learning medical ethics and anthropology, and spending summers dedicating my time to working with research groups like Dr. Peter Hotez’s team. When I thought of study abroad, I imagined applying my numerous years of Spanish language classes to study in Madrid or Barcelona. Throughout high school, I believed I was an engaged citizen: organizing library outreach programs, volunteering for health fairs, holding an officer position in my student government. But after reading Half the Sky, I could regain neither my former sense of accomplishment nor my former aspirations, which began to feel commonplace.

One of the unique aspects of Half the Sky is its focus on individual contributions. Besides CARE, and a few other organizations, the majority of aid detailed after each chapter in the novel is from an individual or small group of people who learned about the horrors of women’s oppression and decidedly took action. Reading about Frank Grijalva, who began an initiative to sponsor a school in Cambodia from Seattle, or Edna Adan, who left her wealthy lifestyle working for the WHO to develop a maternity hospital in Somaliland, left me feeling empty. I had traveled to India three times, but not once had I volunteered for an organization like Apne Aap. I had the ability to gather a group of students to raise money to sponsor a school, but the idea had not even crossed my mind. Half the Sky reiterates the importance of education for women, and yet, I was the one who was ignorant. Like so many of my peers, I was powerless in the fight against women’s oppression, simple because I had never faced the painful details.

As I finished reading the last few pages, my entire vision for my seven years at GW shifted slightly. I realized how much more I could learn from working at a hospital like HEAL Africa, spending a summer abroad in Congo. Indeed, medical ethics and anthropology can be learned through specific cases in life-changing ways on the field. After discussing my thoughts with my parents, I was able to grasp the amount of power I held, and how much greater an impact I could make in the lives of women. It was about time I, like many of the individuals described in Half the Sky, took a leap into the fight against women’s oppression.

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