Shilpa Alva visited India every year as a kid. But during the summer before her junior year as a chemical engineering major at Johns Hopkins University, Alva experienced India in a different way—an experience that she said served as a turning point in her life.

“I hadn’t really been exposed to living with extreme poverty,” said Alva, co-founder and executive director of Surge for Water. “People didn’t have water and they had really bare minimum homes. Everyone was involved in farming because that’s all they could eat—what they grew. If it didn’t rain, there would be no crops.”

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