CBSelfie with Simran Chugani

January 06, 2020

This past summer the sophomore traveled alone for first time in her life all the way to Cape Town, South Africa for a summer internship, bridging her interests in public health and communication. 

Simran Chugani

Hometown: Plymouth, MN

Major: Neuroscience

Minor: Communications

What attracted you to neuroscience?
I’ve always liked gray areas. Nothing is set in stone, even in science. Neuroscience encapsulates this. Not only is the brain made up of mostly gray matter, but the fact that relatively little is known about neural networks and that we, as a community, can all learn about it together, is what draws me to the field the most.

How do you see neuroscience and communications interacting?
I used to see communications as completely disparate from my interest in science. I am realizing though that these two fields are deeply intertwined. From health professionals to field ecologists, scientists must communicate their work to each other, to their patients, community and beyond.

What did you work on during your internship in Summer 2019?
I spent this past summer in Cape Town interning for the Desmond Tutu HIV Foundation. I worked with marginalized populations to promote queer healthcare inclusiveness in conservative areas around Cape Town.

What did you learn from this experience?
Perhaps most importantly, I learned how to be a good listener. It was not my place to try to ameliorate the deeply rooted challenges that community members face when it comes to healthcare. Instead of trying to “save” anyone, I simply spent the summer listening. I went around the community and talked to locals. It was so eye opening. At the end of the summer, I don’t think I did too much to help, but I got to hear these peoples stories about how they’ve interacted with healthcare. It was a formative experience and something I never thought I would ever get to experience.

Outside of classes and study sessions, what keeps you busy on campus?
Classes take up a lot of time, but I will always find time to perform. I’m on the University’s Speech Team and I perform spoken word poetry as well. I’m also part of the planning committee for the Midwest Asian-American Student Union (MAASU). 

What drew you to CBS?
The resources, people and research are one-of-the-kind. But what I’ve found that keeps me connected to CBS is the ability to use the microphones in the Bruininks classrooms. Ok, that was (mostly) a joke. What really ties me to this College is the genuine excitement of the professors and people. Even on days where I don’t feel fully engaged with the class content and curriculum, my professor’s interjections of “cool chemistry facts,” even in an otherwise dense lecture, keeps me motivated. Their genuine enthusiasm is the key to my growth as a student.

What’s your favorite spot on campus? 
One of my favorite spots on campus is Nolte. My previous roommate introduced me to this quaint and cozy lounge. It’s one of the warmest places to be during the frigid winter months.