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Dominican student ExcEL's in humanitarian work


Junior and recipient of the ExcEL Scholar Award Saba Raza will travel for three weeks to an orphanage (Shaheen Nagar) in Telengana, India to offer her service and support to the children.  

The Excellence in Experiential Learning (ExcEL) Scholar Awards are intended to provide gap funding support to undergraduates who want to build hands-on educational experiences into their Dominican careers. Students can apply for awards of up to $2000. This year there were 15 recipients of ExcEL grants.

"I am so blessed and excited to work with the children and staff, experience a different culture and help people who don't really have much," Raza says. "Humanitarian work is my passion. I have been to Peru and done work with refugees. This time, I wanted to pick a place that was far away from any tourist location. I am not going as a tourist but as a traveler and this little village may have not received any attention if I didn't make that decision."

Raza is an elementary education major that is also doing a paramedic program at College of DuPage. Her dream of becoming a first responder derived from her humanitarian work.

"When I was working with refugees I found that a lot of them needed emergency medical help," Raza says. "There were babies on the street that had half their brains blown out and I just had this feeling of hopelessness. I felt really bad because I was standing there and I couldn't do anything because I had no medical background. I told myself that I would never be in that type of a situation again where somebody is dying in front of me and I can't help them. This program is allowing me to learn certain things so I can be proactive in those moment of hopelessness."

One of the reasons Raza chose India as her next destination was because her parents are from there. She's visited family as a young child but does not remember much.

"I don't know Indian culture that well so it will be a self-discovery as well as a humanitarian project," Raza says. "I want to immerse myself into that culture and I really want to learn everything."

Raza was planning on going on this trip even before she heard of the scholarship opportunity. She will be using the money she originally saved for the trip to bring vitamins as well as supplies to the orphanage. She strongly encourages others to take part in humanitarian work.

"I always tell people to leave their comfort zone and go out and help because it feels amazing and they will learn something new about themselves," Raza says. "You come back as someone different in a positive way. I am always planning these kinds of trips and thinking of where I can go and what I can do. This just happened to be the next one and I am so happy that Dominican is helping me with that."

Raza is going to be filming a mini documentary while she is in India that she plans to show at the Caritas Veritas Symposium in the fall.

"The goal is to film it as a Dominican student so that I can show how I use our Dominican values while I am over there," Raza says.

You can follow Saba on her journey from her YouTube account: