Student Spotlight with Farzana Shah

PULITZER FELLOW: Farzana Shah, a master’s student in the School of Nursing, was recently awarded a Pulitzer International Student Reporting Fellowship from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting independent international journalism on topics that are often underreported in the U.S. media. In August, she will travel to Tehran, Iran, as part of a Novick Cardiac Alliance team.

HER NATURE TO NURTURE: For the past seven years, Shah has worked as a nurse in the cardiac intensive care unit at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She says she and nursing “found each other,” and her nurturing ways were passed down from her grandmother and mother. “I’ve always been that person that liked to care for people and family,” she says. “If you were sick, I was the one who made chicken soup for you.”

TOUGH KIDS: Working with children, Shah says, has always been her passion. “Children are just very innocent,” she says. “They have this resiliency that is very pure. The toughest people I know are probably 4- or 5-year-olds that go through a lot and they’re amazing. You can learn a lot from kids.”

ON THE GO WITH AN NGO: Since 2009, Shah has volunteered with non-government organizations in the Palestinian territories, Peru, and El Salvador, and traveled with the Novick Cardiac Alliance to Iraq and Ecuador. “It’s just phenomenal,” she says of her volunteer work in Central and South America, and the Middle East. “The people that you meet—the world doesn’t become this big, scary place.”

SAFE TRAVELS: Some of the places Shah has visited are war-torn or have reputations for being dangerous, but she has not balked at volunteering in these areas. “I think you always have to be a smart traveler whenever you go anywhere,” she says. “Even taking a trip anywhere in the United States, you just have to be smart about how you’re doing it and not being aloof to your surroundings. That being said, I feel very safe in a lot of these places that I go to.”

HELP THE CHILDREN: As part of the Novick team, Shah will be working in a host hospital in Tehran as one of the ICU nurse educators. “The big thing is working with the local staff and empowering them to do work for the children,” she says.

LEAD STORY: For her journalism project, which she is calling “The Heart Sounds of Iran,” Shah will produce editorial pieces during the surgical missions, which may involve conducting interviews, writing articles, and creating videos, and highlighting physicians, nurses, and patients.

HOME & AWAY: Shah says she would like to continue doing similar work when she finishes her studies at the School of Nursing. “I would love to continue doing the international work and do work here as well, somehow marry the local and abroad services,” she says.

Farzana Shah