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Star of the Month

April 2024

Sahithi Madireddy
School of Medicine

Congratulations to our Star of the Month for April 2024, Sahithi Madireddy from the School of Medicine! Sahithi is a SOURCE Service Scholar working with our partners at Green and Healthy Homes Initiative to support electrification efforts for Baltimore residents. Read our interview below to learn more about her experience working with our community!


Can you share a little background about your experience in the Baltimore community through your work with SOURCE? What made you want to get involved and what work are you doing? 

Through SOURCE, I am working with the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative, an organization promoting equitable access to safe and healthy housing in Baltimore. GHHI provides home improvement services in a coordinated fashion at no cost to clients, and they advocate for policies that promote healthy housing. GHHI also has a focus on racial equity, since housing is strongly linked to structural racism. Recently, GHHI is also working on climate-friendly housing, which will have health benefits as well. My work supports GHHI’s East Baltimore housing electrification pilot, which involves switching houses from relying on gas to electric appliances. This will reduce emissions from fossil fuel combustion, and may also decrease indoor air pollution and produce energy savings. I am interviewing clients who have electrified their homes to learn more about their experiences. I am also supporting the development of metrics to measure how effectively electrification is delivering health and energy benefits. Service was a formative part of my undergraduate experience, and I wanted to continue work in community engagement as a medical student. I previously participated in environmental advocacy for fossil fuel divestment and a municipal campaign for building decarbonization. Working with GHHI seemed like a continuation of my previous activities in climate action, while giving me the opportunity to get to know Baltimore better as a first-year medical student.


Can you share some more details about the SOURCE Service Scholars program and what it entails?

The SOURCE Service Scholars program is a year-long opportunity to work on a pre-defined project with a community partner in Baltimore. You also get to work with and manage a team of volunteers from the Hopkins health professional schools. A unique part of being a SOURCE Service Scholar is that you’re given a lot of responsibility and autonomy over a project, essentially working as an employee of this other organization while you’re also a student. A crucial part of the program is a monthly reflection dinner with other SOURCE Service Scholars where we get to talk about our projects, what challenges are coming up, and what we’re learning.


How does your community work complement what you’re learning in the classroom at the School of Medicine?

During medical school, I’m learning a lot about what physiologically can go wrong with the body, but my work in the community teaches me more about how the environments around us can shape our health. The places we work, live, and play all affect how we grow up and thrive. It’s given me a greater appreciation for the importance of knowing what my patients’ lives are like outside of the clinic. Learning about the effects of gas and indoor air pollution on health has also given me more experience in environmental health, a field I’m excited to continue exploring.


What advice would you give to other students looking to engage in service-learning in Baltimore?

SOURCE is a great resource to get involved! Think about what sort of commitment you’d like to make; would it be easier for you to perform service as part of a student group? Is it easier to do it as part of a program like the SOURCE Service Scholars? Is it easier to commit to a certain time every week, or commit to a one-time service opportunity? I think the important thing to truly make it a service-learning experience is to reflect on your own position as a Hopkins student and what you’re seeing through service that you might not be seeing in the classroom. I think you also get more out of service when it’s something that aligns with your values and your interests. Of course, the most important thing is that the work is useful for your community partner--you have to put yourself in the position of listening before doing.


What is the most important experience you’ve had or thing you’ve learned? 

One of the most important things I’ve learned as a SOURCE Service Scholar is how to maintain a respectful partnership with my community organization, even when things about a project can be up in the air or subject to change. There were times when I had to discuss with changing the scope of our project with my preceptor. This gave me a greater appreciation for the logistical challenges of trying to do innovative work for social change on the ground, which can come with hiccups that you don’t always anticipate. The important thing is to be flexible, communicative, open, and ready to listen to make sure you can work as effectively as possible. I think this experience and these skills will make me a better team member in the future, whether it’s in medicine or community engagement.


Thank you Sahithi for your tremendous service to our community!