Meenal Sawant

Degree: Ph.D. in Social Welfare

College/School: Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work

In the past two years, Meenal Sawant has faced an unfathomable amount of loss. She lost both of her parents and she nearly lost her own life.

Meenal started getting sick last September with fever and headaches, but doctors did not know what was wrong. She fell into a coma for several weeks and spent the holiday season hospitalized.

It turned out she had non-infectious meningitis, and complications zapped all mobility on the left side of her body. 

A year later—with support from her dedicated husband, Prashant Sherigar, and the faculty and staff from Stempel College’s School of Social Work—Meenal is receiving her doctorate in social welfare. She is walking with the help of a cane and her doctors expect her to make a full recovery soon.

She started her doctoral journey at FIU in 2011 after obtaining a master’s in public health from the University of Texas Health Science Center. Her research evaluates mobile clinics for alcohol rehabilitation in rural India, where she found that nearly 70 percent of the patients are able to stay sober after 12 months in the free program.

Meenal embodies the spirit of FIU. Even during her darkest moments, traveling to and from India to care for her ailing parents, and during her own illness, she was able to stay focused on her dreams of obtaining a Ph.D.

By Galena Mosovich

Account Manager, Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work