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Sonum Tharwani

MD/MBA 2025

You are currently in the MD/MBA dual degree program at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Medicine. What made you select UNC for your degrees?
Selecting UNC for my MD/MBA dual degree program was a decision deeply influenced by the sense of community at Kenan-Flagler Business School and the School of Medicine. The warm interactions, from shared smiles to personal conversations, make it feel like a family. Staff and faculty make it a point to remember names and stories, showing genuine interest in each individual. Diversity is not just talked about; it’s celebrated with events that unify people through shared experiences and food, highlighting inclusivity as a core value. Wellness is also a priority, exemplified by thoughtful gestures like crafting tea blends at the business school or the medical school’s considerate approach to personal emergencies, acknowledging our lives beyond campus. The campus buzzes with energy from constant events (especially basketball games – go Heels!) and other spontaneous gatherings, accompanied by the backdrop of overall pleasant weather. Thus, this unique blend of academic excellence, community support, and holistic well-being at UNC has solidified my decision, leaving me with no regrets about choosing this esteemed institution for my dual degree, as it aligns perfectly with my aspirations and values.

Tell us about something you learned or discovered during your education that surprised you. How do you think you will apply it professionally?
Throughout my education, it was eye-opening to learn how much I understood about areas I thought were completely new to me. Terms like ‘bottlenecks’ and ‘cost accounting,’ for instance, turned out to be part of my everyday experience in the hospital setting, albeit without the formal terminology. This insight was instrumental in combatting imposter syndrome, as I discovered that my experiences had equipped me with a relevant foundation of knowledge. In my professional journey, I plan to leverage this understanding to foster connections across diverse fields. Even if someone’s specialization seems vastly different from mine, I now feel more confident in finding common threads and embracing those connections. This approach will help me (and others) build important relationships and ultimately further champion interprofessional collaboration.

Who inspires you?
My grandfather has always been a beacon of inspiration in my life. His life’s work taught me that the essence of making a significant difference lies in the everyday interactions we have, and that by caring for others in these ways, we weave the fabric of a tighter-knit community. He started his own rural clinic in a small town in South Carolina. He treated his patients as if they were his own family, extending the kind of care and compassion that heals more than just physical ailments. It was the little things he did that left the greatest impact; a warm smile to those he met, remembering names during chance encounters at the grocery store, inquiring about their families with genuine interest, and bringing homemade Indian food for his staff. These seemingly small acts of kindness and recognition made a world of difference to those around him.

What has been your most memorable experience during your time at Carolina? 
Some of my most memorable experiences at UNC Kenan-Flagler have been the DEI events. I’ve loved every moment, from grooving to music during Diwali and indulging in sweets, to the ‘Around the World’ event where cultures shine through performances like breakdancing, fashion shows, a folk dance from the Philippines, and mini presentations about people’s home countries. Additionally, there are always club events that bring me just as much joy, from ramen lunches to a Latin-themed Carolina casual with salsa lessons that got everyone up and dancing. These events leave me feeling energized and enriched by the diverse perspectives. What truly warms my heart is seeing how everyone in our community is genuinely interested in learning from each other’s stories.

Tell us about a hobby or personal interest. 
From a young age, the art of dance has been a transformative force in my life, leading me to embrace diverse cultural expressions and develop a passion for various dance forms around the world. My parents signed me up for a Bollywood dance group when I was 5 years old, and I was captivated by the symbolic hand gestures and their ability to teach me India’s history and values. My love for dance crossed borders. During a vacation to Dubai, I saw Arabic dancers with ornate scarves tied around their hips perform flawlessly. My interest in mirroring these dancers led to endless YouTube searches of “Arabic hip movements.” Soon after, my exchange trip to Argentina in high school sparked my interest for Latin dancing, so I started dancing Salsa and became a Zumba certified instructor!