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Changing the system from within

Radhika Arora’s commitment to advancing health equity and improving healthcare access

By Taylor Utzig
January 24, 2022

Radhika Arora didn’t need a lecture to teach her about the complexities of navigating the U.S. health care system. Two years before becoming a student in Loyola University Chicago’s Parkinson School of Health Sciences and Public Health, Arora helped her family tirelessly search for health care when her grandmother—a recent immigrant from India—suffered a minor heart attack.

Arora watched as her mother drove her grandma from appointment to appointment, clinic to clinic, sometimes waiting in line for hours to try and find a care provider that would see her despite her illegal status. “It was a mess. It made me realize that I take my own health for granted,” says Arora. “My whole life, I always thought health care was just doctors and nurses. Now, I understand that there is a business and community side to health care, too.”

While her family did eventually find adequate care for her grandma—and helped her become a legal citizen—the frustration Arora felt lingered. “I knew if I wanted the system to change, I had to do it from within,” she says. She realized the best way to go about making a change was to study health care administration because such a degree would “equip me with the skills to work in an institution that is in direct control of a patient’s care and the community.”

"I knew if I wanted the system to change, I had to do it from within." - Radhika Arora

Having grown up in the Chicago suburb of Carol Stream, Arora was familiar with Loyola University Chicago’s dedication to social justice. So, when she learned about the Parkinson’s Healthcare Administration program, she knew Loyola was the perfect fit.

With each class she took, from data analytics to learning about health policy and systems management, Arora noticed a theme: “Every single professor I've had at the Parkinson School has integrated health equity and critical thinking into their lectures or lessons,” she says. “For me, that’s the core foundation. If I started my own health system, that would be its central mission.”

As a first-generation college student, Arora values Parkinson’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives inside and outside the classroom. When she is not in class, you can find Arora mentoring first-generation students of color as a peer advisor for the Department of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs or serving on Loyola’s Panhellenic Council as the first-ever vice president of DEI. “Leadership positions give me a way to practice what I’m learning,” she says. “I’m not a health expert, yet, but I can still do what I know best: I can be leader.”

Arora’s passion and dedication to making measurable changes toward equity have not gone unnoticed. In December 2021, Parkinson’s department of Healthcare Administration awarded her the inaugural Clarke Family Scholarship. Named for Katie (Camila) Clarke and John Clarke, the scholarship honors the Clarke Family’s commitment to advancing the field of health care administration. “Receiving this scholarship, I felt so proud of myself; I felt reassured,” says Arora. “I know people say you shouldn’t rely on external validation, but it really is an honor to be recognized.”

With this scholarship, Arora is considering the possibility of continuing her education either by pursuing a Master of Healthcare Administration or studying osteopathic medicine. Regardless of where her journey takes her, Arora “remains open to learning and listening” to best serve people who are underrepresented in health care. “I was born here, and I have that privilege,” says Arora. “It’s important that I use that privilege and my education to represent those who might not have that opportunity.”

The Parkinson School is committed to making your education accessible and affordable. Learn more about the Clarke Family Scholarship and other awards and financial resources available to Parkinson students.