From Nairobi to L.A.: She aims for international impact after graduating from USC Dornsife and USC Price
Serish Thakker on safari in Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. (Photo: Courtesy of Serish Thakker.)

From Nairobi to L.A.: She aims for international impact after graduating from USC Dornsife and USC Price

Serish Thakker graduates with degrees in public policy and international relations
ByEric Ruble

Serish Thakker knows how decisions made at the highest levels impact everyday people. She witnessed it firsthand while working at the Africa Healthcare Federation (AHF) in Nairobi, Kenya, during the pandemic.

“Living through the pandemic in Kenya was starkly different from living through the pandemic in the U.S.,” said Thakker, who was born and raised in the Kenyan capital.

She says all of the medical components — from equipment to vaccines to advocacy — were rolled out far more slowly than they were in the U.S.

“This was noticeable across different health care institutions across the African continent,” said Thakker, who graduated this May from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the USC Price School of Public Policy.

While working at AHF, Thakker was tasked with sharing accurate, concise information about COVID-19 around Africa. She says it was a massive undertaking, especially because of the huge variety of languages spoken in different regions.

“This required a great amount of flexibility and adaptability to tailor themes for the webinars and social media posts very rapidly, depending on the most pressing concerns,” she said. “I learned so much about the value of streamlined information.”

She says this became easier as her work progressed.

“As more health care institutions and communication teams laid the groundwork and got into the swing of things, the communication channels were much more efficient,” she said.

Thakker leaves USC with two degrees, one in public policy from USC Price and one in international relationsfrom USC Dornsife.

“It’s only when I got to USC that I realized there’s an intersection of international relations and public policy, and that I could derive skills from both and tailor them to my interests,” she said.

So, what’s next for Thakker? After graduation, she will be working at Chemonics International, a development firm dedicated to improving people’s quality of life in areas such as trade, education and global health.

“I’ve always been interested in international development and bringing sustainable programs to humans in Africa, specifically,” she said. “[I’m] fascinated by the effect international interventions have on global health and education programs.”

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