Master’s student Shubhada Saxena has been selected 2014 Women of the Year in Racial Justice by the Young Women Christian Association-Greater Austin.
Saxena is president and founder of SAIVA (South Asians’ International Volunteer Association), a nonprofit that empowers elderly immigrants to be active participants in their communities through volunteer activities. Watch a video about SAIVA here.
“I had this experience with my mother-in-law, she had a very successful medical practice back in India, but when she moved to the United States she didn’t have anybody to talk to outside of her family. We all went to work, and there was nobody there,” Saxena said. “It was very hard for her. And I saw that many immigrant seniors were in this same situation.”
Saxena, who had an electrical engineering background, switched careers from program manager at IBM to managing programs for seniors, and to care for her mother-in-law, who had developed dementia.
“My experience as an advocate for elderly immigrants and as a primary care giver for my mother-in-law brought me to the School of Social Work and to the CAL concentration of the master’s program,” Saxena said. “In social work I found a space where I can do collaborative leadership, which is something that I can really engage with versus a competitive position in a business structure.”
Saxena currently serves on the Board of Family Eldercare, and is a member of the Aging Services Council and the Asian Behavioral Health Network in Austin. She has received the 2014 Trailblazer award from the Indian American Coalition of Texas, and the 2014 Newman Civil Fellow Award from the Longhorn Center for Civic Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.