Cancer Research: Higher Education for Global Impact

Rasmi Nair, an international student from India studying at Temple University is a finalist for the ISV Magazine Margaret W. Wong Scholarship. Read her essay here!

As an excellent medical student in India, my only secret to success was memorizing the textbooks and regurgitating them in exams. I was not equipped to question or criticize any process and was blindly following my seniors and teachers. It is at this time that I had the opportunity to chat with a researcher who had pursued his higher education in the U.S. This life-altering moment made me realize how his perspectives differed from mine which called for a serious re-aligning of my priorities. I researched for programs in the U.S. that sparked my interest and I stumbled across the Masters in Public Health Program at Western Kentucky University.

When I came to the U.S. and started my Masters program, I was skeptical at first, as I was not sure what to expect. But soon, I realized that it was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I not only learned the subject matter and content in Public Health but I also grew and nourished as a student and human being. I learnt how to critically analyze the subject matter before blindly following the masses. I also realized that it was okay to pave my own way and style of learning with the guidance of my advisors and professors. I learnt to apply my knowledge in the field and started undertaking projects with my professors. I understood that education was not just sitting in a room and learning textbooks or writing tests. The true test of knowledge is its application in the real world while encountering real life issues and eventually making a difference in the world. This realization encouraged me to volunteer with my professors and undertake projects under their guidance.

I was brought up in an atmosphere where I was not supposed to act confident or share my thoughts, being a female student. My education in the U.S. taught me that rank and gender should not be an obstacle in voicing my opinion, as far as I am polite and respectful in doing so. This confidence boost helped me become a better public speaker while giving presentations or teaching a class. One other skill that I have adopted here is to be a team player. Nothing helps us achieve our goals in a better and timelier fashion than group efforts. I am also grateful to my teachers who emphasized that personal life is just as important as professional life. As a mother of a toddler, I was always worried of how I would balance the two worlds. But my teachers and friends have always understood my commitments and adjusted the timelines and project work accordingly. I am hoping that in future, when I am a faculty member and a researcher in India, I can be just as considerate and understanding as my peers and teachers here.

As I wanted to pursue my career in cancer research in India, I started my PhD at Temple University in Fall 2014. As I had already learnt some important qualities in my Masters program, it was a smooth transition for me. I am currently involved in a number of projects and equipped at designing and executing my own research projects with the help and guidance of my teachers. I have focused my attention towards cancer research which is currently the most dynamic field. There are new breakthroughs in the field of cancer every day and I hope to make my small contribution to the process with all the knowledge and skills that I gathered here.

I plan to return to India after my PhD program and apply my knowledge to the field of Public Health and Cancer Research in India. The Public Health Foundation of India recently established five new Indian Institutes of Public Health. They are less than a decade old and are in its infant stages. I aim to become a faculty member and researcher in one of these institutions and contribute towards Cancer Research. I am sure that I will be capable of applying all the knowledge and skills that I gained here to help me become an excellent researcher and role model for my students in the future. I am confident that I will be able to make a global impact in the field of Public Health with my higher education and commitment to the field.

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”18″ size_format=”px”]Rasmi Nair[/typography]

Home Country: India

University/College: Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

margaret w. wong scholarship international student voice magazine

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