A man wearing a white long sleeve shirt and blue jeans sitting on a mosaic tile cube
Ishaan Nandwani, pictured at the Plaza de España in Seville, Spain, has been mesmerized by the architecture and “authentic beauty” of Seville during his spring studying there. (Photo by Victoria Bee, @?victoriabeephoto on Instagram)

Class of 2023: With an expanding world view, Ishaan Nandwani sees medicine as service

VCU Honors College senior, with degrees in biology and Spanish, looks to blend patient and community care.

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Ishaan Nandwani came from across the country to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, and his studies have taken him across the world. With a career in medicine now in his sights, he sees patient care as a focal point for the wide-ranging interests he will continue to explore.

“I love to learn, and medicine offers endless opportunities to do so,” said Nandwani, an Honors College student who will graduate in May with degrees in biology and Spanish from the College of Humanities and Sciences.

Born and raised in San Jose, California, Nandwani came to VCU for the Honors College Guaranteed Admissions Program for Medicine. The eight-year track includes undergraduate studies followed by the VCU School of Medicine. “I was also drawn to the community-oriented culture of the Honors College and fell in love with Richmond when I visited,” he said.

Nandwani has shared that passion with others as a student ambassador for the Honors College, and he broadened his own perspective as opinions editor for The Commonwealth Times.

“I’ve always loved to write,” he said. “In the past few years, I’ve written articles about the nursing crisis at VCU Health, the college experience and the rights of Haitian immigrants at the border. This experience has inspired me to look into medical journalism in the future and find ways to continue to integrate writing into my career as a physician.”

Nandwani also sees his Spanish coursework intersecting with medicine. He wanted to continue studying Spanish at the highest level at VCU and believes it has opened many doors for him, including giving him the chance to serve as a medical interpreter. He believes it will remain an invaluable skill for him as a physician.

Nandwani cited Anita Nadal, a teaching assistant professor in VCU’s School of World Studies in the College of Humanities and Sciences, as a mentor in both his Spanish studies and community service.

“We’ve shared countless experiences together organizing in the community,” he said. “She has inspired me to always place service at the forefront of my life and to fearlessly work to make the world a better place.”  

Nandwani’s efforts included co-organizing a coat drive for residents at the Southwood Apartments in Richmond and serving as a medical interpreter and scribe at CrossOver Healthcare Ministry.

“These projects integrated my interests in medicine, science and education, while also allowing me to make a meaningful impact on vulnerable communities in Richmond,” said Nandwani, who has been volunteering in the community since he was 11.

This semester, Nandwani has lived and studied in Spain as part of his coursework, providing a window into new cultures and a greater sense of independence. He said he has been mesmerized by the architecture and “authentic beauty” of Seville.

Nandwani recently completed a five-day excursion to Morocco offered by his study abroad program. He had never been to Africa and was eager to experience its culture. During his visit, he traveled to Fes, Rabat, and Merzouga in the Sahara Desert.

“The desert was my favorite part — something about laying in the dunes with nothing but sand at every angle felt incredibly cathartic and restorative,” he said.

He decided to study abroad during his last semester because he spent the spring of his junior year studying for the Medical College Admission Test.

“I’m really happy with the way it worked out, though — it’s a great way to end college,” Nandwani said.

Of course, the end of his undergraduate path is just one point on the ongoing journey. And while medical school is part of an upcoming chapter, Nandwani was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English in Colombia for a year. If he does so, medical school will be on hold. Ultimately, though, his goal is the same: being a dedicated physician and advocating for vulnerable members of society.

“The world is so much bigger than we realize, and my time here has inspired me to seek out ways to continuously push my boundaries,” Nandwani said of his VCU experiences. “In addition to maintaining a clinical practice, I hope to engage in public health research, teach, volunteer abroad and write. Above all, I want to make the world a better place while experiencing life to the fullest."