"We prepare students to engage in the world that is and to help bring about a world that ought to be."

Arya Singh '18

“I hope that this is a reminder that the world is bigger than us, but by being vulnerable and sharing our stories we can forge beautiful and meaningful connections.” Arya Singh ’18 is a junior at Yale University, majoring in History of Science, Medicine, and Public Health. She was challenged in a class assignment to find a creative way to share what they had been learning. Using her own experience with Spinal Muscular Atrophy as inspiration, she wrote a children’s book. From this assignment came the recently published Courageous Calla and the Clinical Trial. “As I wrote the book and thought about who the audience was and who I was writing for, I realized that the intended audience was bigger than just my class. I realized I wanted more people to know, I wanted to reach more people. There are not a lot of resources for kids in clinical trials, I wanted to make sure that people I intended to read this actually had a copy in their hands.”
What started as a class assignment has blossomed into so much more. “Courageous Calla is humanizing medicine in a way that hasn’t happened before, It is creating a source of education for kids in clinical trials that hasn’t existed. I am aware that this is just a 20-page book, but this isn’t the end, this is the beginning. I hope it’s the start to something bigger.” She used her own experiences as a child in clinical trials to inform her story, “I would tell people that I was just out sick or make things up. I didn’t know how to tell them I was in a clinical trial. The reason I was lying to people is that I had no idea what I was talking about. I remember signing 100-page documents that I didn’t understand and hadn’t read. I deferred to my parents to decide these things. Having to trust blindly people 24/7 was a really interesting experience. I didn’t understand what was going on around me, especially as a little kid.”

Arya was not always inspired to work in the medical field; she came to her major after a lot of hesitancy. “I grew up thinking that I was going to go as far away from medicine as possible. I had been in that world my whole life. I thought, ‘I would never major in it.’ It was really at Yale where I realized that I was going to get the most out of this experience by not running away from the medical world. I stopped trying to separate my own experiences in that world from what I was passionate about.”

When asked how the Quaker values instilled in her at Friends have informed her work, Arya shared that integrity was the value she resonated with the most. “It means 1,000 things to many different people. For me, integrity is the idea of being honest with yourself and other people and staying true to yourself.” Another value that is apparent in the work Arya has done with her book is community. “I have been able to build a strong community of people because of Courageous Calla.” She shared that friends, family, strangers, and children are reaching out to speak about how Courageous Calla and the Clinical Trial has helped them in their experiences. She hopes that her book brings about a world that ought to be “by starting a conversation that didn’t exist before.”
Friends Seminary actively promotes diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism in all its programs and operations, including admissions, financial aid, hiring, and all facets of the educational experience. To form a community which strives to reflect the world’s diversity, we do not discriminate on the basis of race or color, religion, nationality, ethnicity, economic background, physical ability, sex, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation. Friends Seminary is an equal opportunity employer.

Friends Seminary — the oldest continuously operated, coeducational school in NYC — serves college-bound day students in Kindergarten-Grade 12.
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