Mindful work in Music City

Abinaya.2.croppedAbinaya & her family

Writtten by: Amber Yun

Abinaya Ramakrishnan is an Ingram Scholar at Vanderbilt University, joining a small, distinguished pool of socially minded, service-oriented students who received the scholarship. Abinaya is an accomplished pre-med student, double majoring in Medicine, Health, and Society and Biological Sciences, and doing double duty volunteering at five different organizations in the Nashville community. As a trans-buddy and doula-in-training at the Vanderbilt Medical Center, a helping hand and arm of emotional support at the Alive Hospice, and a mental health educator in local middle schools and high schools through NAMI (National Alliance for Mental Illness) in the Ending the Silence program, Abinaya has already impacted 3,000 Nashvillian lives in the past nine months alone.  

For Abinaya, service has been a part of her life from an early age. When she was nine years old, she remembers accompanying her family friends to a local branch of Feed My Starving Children, packaging dry foods for impoverished children in Africa and South Asia. Since that first taste of community service, Abinaya has continued to serve her community in increasingly consequential ways, establishing her own non-profit called Muzic Academy in the 9th grade. Muzic Academy connects music teachers and low-income students in the Chicago area, providing free private music lessons for those who otherwise could not afford them and still continues to this day. 

Although she has worked towards many issues in her community service, Abinaya’s primary passions are mental health and healthcare equality, and she sees them as recurring themes in her volunteering work. After a serious health scare in the family last year regarding her father’s heart–which he has successfully recovered from–Abinaya has been inspired to take her heart surgeon career to an underserved area like India and provide quality healthcare to indigent populations there. India, her parent’s home country, suffers from one of the highest rates of heart disease and access to quality healthcare is unpredictable. Abinaya credit her parents as pivotal motivators who “instilled the importance of education and giving back to those less fortunate.”

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