I'm a proud UN Foundation Social Good Fellow so I'm very happy to wish a happy birthday to Shot@Life. For their first birthday, they asked some of their supporters to profile some of their active Shot@Life Champions and I have the pleasure of introducing you to Priya Desai. She is the young lady on the left hand side of the photo.
1. Tell me about yourself. What do you do on a daily basis?
My name is Priya Desai and I am 26 years old. I have my bachelor's and my master's degree in social work with an emphasis on administration and community practice. I have dabbled in everything from mental health, policy, non-profit, and campaigning experience wise. Up until very recently I was the advocacy director for the local Oklahoma City Chapter of the United Nations Association. This month I was nominated and elected to be the President of our local Oklahoma City Chapter of the United Nations Association. I also serve as a chairwoman of the political action committee for the local Oklahoma Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
I have always had an interest in global programs that meet a very important need for those around the world. My social work skills have given me the tools to become a passionate and effective advocate for such programs. Not to mention, the social worker's code of ethics is a good source of information on how you should treat those who interact with you regardless of profession. I find them to be simple and general rules to live by to make a difference.
I currently work in higher education doing research and administrative work and a few nights a week I work at a place called HeartLine 2-1-1 where we provide community information and resource referrals for health and human services. We answer a variety of hotlines including the suicide prevention line. Having both of those jobs allows me to have the best of both worlds: adminstrative and non profit work.
As for daily activities, I am a news junkie. To become and engaged and make a difference, all it takes is keeping up with that is going on in the world.
2. How did Shot@Life first get on your radar?
I am a member of the United Nations Association and I went to their UNA-USA Annual Meeting. It was there that I got oriented with Shot@Life.
After becoming acquainted with the program, it seemed like there was a strong emotional connection to the mission of this program. I kept it in the back of my mind after the annual meeting. I did not know they had champions until right before I applied for their program. Our local Chapter President had sent an email about applications for Shot@Life and I instantly remembered the program from when I went to the annual meeting June of 2012. The Champions Summit was the perfect stepping stone to effectively convey my passion for global health initiatives, especially ones geared toward children. When I got the email about the application, it felt like it was a sign of some sort that I should give it a shot and see where it takes me.
3. What made you want to take the next step and become a Champion for them?
After I got reacquainted with the program before applying, it got me thinking. One thing that particularly impacted me the most was the idea of "the impact of one", which essentially opens the door for involvement regardless of age, gender, social and professional backgrounds, and amount of effort you would like to put in. You can be a parent or childless. This is something that we can all get behind.
The power that one person can have in changing a child's life, is as simple as serving a voice for those that cannot speak for themselves. That, and also knowing that childhood milestones that are cherished here, should be cherished everywhere. Another thing that got to me was that the idea of vaccines are a luxury here. We have mothers/fathers who are walking days to get to a clinic that has the vaccine that will save his/her child's life, and even then it is not a guarantee the clinic will have any by the time they get there. As a nation based on ideals, we cannot turn our backs while children are needlessly dying from vaccine-preventable diseases.
I took a deep breath and gathered the requested information and spoke from my heart. As it turns out, there two other Oklahoma delegates that got selected to go. (They are in the picture I attached)
4. What would you say to that person out there reading this who is thinking "what good can little old me do?"
You don't have to give money to help. Becoming an advocate and raising awareness about Shot@Life is easy! You can learn about the issue and raise awareness in your community by blogging, tweeting, instagramming, and facebooking, holding events, parties, forums, meetings, etc. The Shot@Life website lists all the different ways you can help. It could be as simple as writing a letter to your congressional representatives or downloading the Shot@Life Mobile App which lets donors donate money when you walk or run! Simply talking about it and educating others is how you can start!
5. What is next for you?
We (the Oklahoma Delegates) are working on ways to raise funds for Shot@Life. We started out by partnering with the local UN Association for their annual Spring Luncheon to talk about Shot@Life and how local people can have a global impact, simply by educating themselves, their friends and family, and the community at large. We raised nearly $200.00 during that luncheon. Our team is currently working on finding a corporate sponsor to take on our idea of selling Shot@Life water bottles with the profits going to Shot@Life. We are still in the beginning phase.
I continue to promote Shot@Life through social media outlets. We are exploring different ways to get into the community and create awareness about the issue and importance of global vaccines. My personal goal is to engage youth and students of all ages to become interested and involved about Shot@Life. Things are hectic right now with two jobs, but things should be slowing down relatively soon and I can focus my efforts on getting some speaking engagements into classrooms, meetings, and service organizations to raise awareness and create action on the part of the students and volunteers. I am a Shot@Life Cheerleader of sorts! Optimism is a key factor in setting the pace for global health victories, and I will keep talking about it until I lose my voice! I guess you can say that I will be obnoxious in the way that I will never sit down, shut up, and be obedient, especially when talking about Shot@Life!
This is just one post that is part of the Shot@Life #BirthdayBash so be sure to click through and read some of the other great profiles.