Sumeeta Bhatia has a passion for people, which fuels her fire for helping her community.
One of Sumeeta Bhatia’s fondest memories of growing up is celebrating “Teachers Day” on September 5th every year. “It was a fun day of celebration, thanking the teachers for everything they did for us,” she says. “I remember being selected to teach one period of a first-grade class when I was in eighth grade. It was definitely not an easy task to manage 50 kids.”
She grew up in Mumbai, India. “Education was of paramount importance to our family. My father was a textile engineer and the vice president of a well-known manufacturing firm called ‘Bombay Dyeing’. My mother stayed at home to take care of us.” She has two siblings who live in Mumbai.
Sumeeta moved to Indianapolis in 1998 along with her husband, Sumeet, who was pursuing a fellowship in oncology at the IU School of Medicine. A graduate of King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai, Sumeeta holds a master’s degree from the University of Indianapolis in physical therapy. In addition, she has a degree in applied computer science from Purdue University which she completed while waiting to obtain her PT license in the U.S.
Currently a homemaker, Sumeeta worked as a physical therapist in various administrative and clinical settings until 2009. “I think it was a good time to stop and focus entirely on family and our three kids. At the end of the day, everyone only has 24 hours. … I started taking interest and being involved in the community.” This is where she ultimately found her passion. She is involved in health and education initiatives in the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area.
“Good policies and initiatives at the state level are pivotal in helping the poor and needy, but it is equally important to minimize the burden on the state. That is where strong communities come into play.”
She has hosted and organized many charitable events where the generosity of the local community members has helped fund educational needs of children. “I don’t think I even knew that I could do something [like this] and be effective, but that is the opportunity and freedom the United States has given me to pursue my passion.” Sumeeta is currently on the board of Community Health Network Foundation and the president elect for the Sycamore School Board. She co-chaired the Capital Campaign at Sycamore, which resulted in many improvements including the creation of Hagerman Commons and The Bhatia Technology Lab. She served on the board of India Association of Indianapolis from 2013-2017 and was its chair in 2017.
Moving to the U.S. far away from family was not an easy task. “I came from Mumbai and it is a happening city with a lot of people. It took some time to adjust. We had one car and lived in a basement apartment at Lockefield Gardens, downtown Indianapolis. And to top it all, I was newly married,” she says with a smile.
“Home is Indiana for us now. It is a great place to raise family. I want my kids to embody the best of the two cultures.” Her daughters are learning traditional north Indian and south Indian dance forms called Kathak and Bharatnatyam, respectively. They are graduates of Sycamore School and currently attend Carmel High School. They enjoy playing flute at various community events and as part of music therapy for cancer patients. Her son is a third grader at Sycamore School. Sumeeta lives in Carmel with her husband, Sumeet, and their three children.
Written by Hannah Lindgren