The ability to think outside the box

Megha shares how studying Public Health in the United States has allowed her to gain insights on a different aspect of healthcare

Leaving behind the city in which I grew up in for 17 years was difficult. However, what lay ahead in my future excited me. Like many Indian youngsters, my interest in studying in the US came largely from the pop culture I was exposed to. My experience in the United States hasn’t been as rosy and carefree as the 
TV shows I watched portrayed; being a United States university student means hard work but I know it will all be worth it in the 
end.

For the perfect score

I am currently a second-year student majoring in Public Health with a concentration in Bioinformatics at Purdue University. I came in with the intent of majoring in Neurophysiology but soon changed to Public Health after realising that there is so much more to healthcare than just medicine. There are hundreds of professions out there that are just as important as becoming an engineer, doctor, businessman or a lawyer.

Coming to the United States helped me explore the abundance of opportunities and changed my perspective about what constitutes a so-called ‘noble profession’. Higher education in the United States gives equal importance to every major, irrespective of their monetary value as a profession and this system broadened my view of education in general.

‘Prevention is better than cure’ is the phrase that everyone has grown up hearing. Unfortunately, today’s world puts more emphasis on curing the disease rather than preventing it. My major, Public Health, interested me as it set itself apart from the curative aspect of healthcare we usually stress on and instead focused more on preventing the malady from happening in the first place. Choosing this field allowed me to step outside the norm and choose a different but very important area where I can make a difference.

As far as the day to day reality of being a United States university student, the testing environment in the United States is much more relaxed but not necessarily easier than it is in India. While most exams are objective (multiple choice), a student can never escape from his or her share of hard work. Practicals play a huge role in America’s education system, especially in STEM majors.

More involved

Research, internships and extracurriculars can sometimes take priority over your perfect GPA. This realisation made me step out of my comfort zone and use college as a resource not only to gain knowledge but also to develop my skills and abilities. I am currently involved in research based on paediatric public health and will soon be pursuing a study abroad project in Italy exploring sexual behaviour and health of Italian women. I am also a leader of two community service groups on campus, and a mentor for incoming students at the College of Health and Human Sciences. 

As I was not a proactive student during my school days, I decided to be more involved in extracurricular activities while I was in college. My participation and leadership initiatives in organisations have boosted my self-confidence to a point where I have learned to value my strengths and weaknesses. In addition to this, living independently in the US made me almost instantly mature. I realise how the education system in this country is making me more resourceful. The experiences I have accumulated have made me set great expectations for myself.

I plan to complete my undergraduate schooling and then pursue a Master’s in Public Health at Harvard University. My long-term goal is to secure another Master’s degree in Hospital Administration. Being lucky enough to find and pursue a major that I love, my ultimate aim is to make a significant difference in my field and help it gain the notability as a noble profession that it deserves. 

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The ability to think outside the box

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