Anjali Sundar, an undergraduate honors student at the University of Michigan studying comparative literature and biomolecular science, recently attended the 37th annual Association of Kerala Medical Graduates (AKMG) convention in Miami Beach, Florida. She presented a poster about UMAP to the AKMG crowd. AKMG is an alumni organization that promotes lifelong learning through Continuing Medical Education (CME) programs and cultural events, supports humanitarian efforts, and builds connections among physicians of Kerala origin.
Speaking Out: My Experience Talking About UMAP
By: Anjali Sundar
Since I was a little girl, I have attended the AKMG conferences with my father, a pediatrician. These highly inspirational conventions have fueled my passion to join the ranks of medical professionals, while embracing my South Indian heritage.
One hallmark of the AKMG conference is the opportunity for medical students and residents to present their field of study through poster presentations to accomplished physicians from around the world. As a child, I always looked forward to the day I would be presenting my own work. This year, despite being an undergraduate student, I was given the chance to create an informative poster to expose people to the University of Michigan Aphasia Program (UMAP), an organization very close to my heart.
When I began volunteering for UMAP, I was a freshman in college and knew very little about aphasia. At the end of my freshman year, a close family friend that cared for me during my childhood had a massive stroke and continues to be impacted by aphasia. The pain caused by this debilitating disease personally affects me. Seeing my own loved one suffer, I am motivated to continue working to improve aphasia patients’ confidence and self-esteem. I have grown more knowledgeable about the disease over the years and have developed a passion for spreading knowledge about the therapy offered at my university.
The poster presentation was a great success with a number of bright ideas generated by passionate learners in the room. I urged physicians to consider UMAP as a positive rehabilitation program for their aphasia patients. The audience was very interested to hear about the outcomes of UMAP and the diversity of our clients. I was able to convey the uniqueness and effectiveness of the intense program, as well as share my own personal experience as a long-time volunteer.
I am humbled by my encounters with highly impressive aphasia patients including musicians, lawyers, and fashion designers. Patients with whom I have conversed have shared their life ambitions that have been put on hold by neurological disease and their development of aphasia. Through continued awareness events and increased education, I strive to play a role in the fight against aphasia.