Challenge myself to the Doctoral Degree in Epidemiology
As a current graduate student at the University of Cincinnati, I have reached a point in my academic career where I know I can challenge myself to the highest degree. I have hopes of conducting research studies that will answer questions that no one has asked before, or find solutions to public health-related problems. Moreover, in order to bring my dreams into fruition, I understand I will have to immerse myself in a rigorous academic program that will take me into the world of research. I can only find this at the University of Cincinnati, while pursuing my doctoral degree in Epidemiology. This program will help me learn the necessary skills to conduct quality and relevant research in the field of public health so that I can address issues that I have a personal affinity for.
Once I graduate, I hope to contribute to the ongoing battle with preterm birth, as well as infant mortality that occur at epidemic levels. By working in a research capacity, I can contribute practical, and sustainable solutions to struggling populations, and publish my findings in order to contribute on a much larger scale. My focus in global health studies in my Master’s program has allowed me to focus on populations outside of the United States, such as Guatemala, and India.
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As an Indian-American who grew up in Ohio and lived in Cincinnati for the past five years, Epidemiology in Public Health is extremely personal, and close to my heart. I have seen the terrible mark left on families especially when I learned that my own mother, coming from India, had four miscarriages before having me. I will never understand the pain she felt, but I see the impact it has left on our family, and on her mental and physical health. Back in India, preterm delivery is up to 18% and I know that I must do everything in my power to learn how I can improve this statistic. Our own community of Cincinnati is ranked 2nd in the country for infant mortality, despite all of the efforts to reduction. Visiting India when I was younger, gave me an important perspective to life because I came to realize that other countries are suffering much more than we are. Others do not have access to quality healthcare, education, or even basic preventative measures. Because of this lack of access, there is many cases of simply avoidable illness and suffering. I want to research this topic for my mother, and other moms around the world who are experiencing the loss of their babies, or who are not carrying the baby to full-term.
I cannot move forward without remembering where I came from, who raised me, and all the people who have supported my dreams. I believe that my research can touch everyone in my life, and that I can bring a new, exciting finding to the world. I want to give back with all my ability, compassion, and love, and I will work to bring access to quality healthcare to health systems that I know can be better.
Furthermore, my interest in Public Health stems from the early research experiences I am honored to be a part of as a volunteer and as a paid coordinator at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, specifically in the Hoxworth Blood center and Ultrasound Clinic. I have the privilege of working Dr. Emily DeFranco, and Dr. Christina Valentine on an FDA affiliated study to reduce preterm delivery in the United States. Our mission is to eventually implement a mandated dose of DHA, a nutritional supplement, to all pregnant women to reduce the risk of preterm delivery. Working closely with Dr. Valentine has inspired me to develop myself further, and realize that I can make a difference in this area of Public Health by contributing my time and effort to a simple solution. This study has made me realize that a small change in habit can save lives. It is with this mentality that I believe we can save lives around the world with simple but powerful solutions to big problems. I have seen incredible results by Dr. Valentine and Dr. Emily DeFranco’s study that I have aided in the development of, implicating nutritional and behavioral modification, combining elements that ensure and maintains positive health outcomes.
Even before entering graduate education, I excelled in school and in athletics, where I played golf at the Division 1 level for Xavier University. Working with my colleges faculty and coaches, along with coaches at university, I learned the importance of Public health education and nutritional education. I learned how to eat healthy, live healthy and I learned the importance of going to a doctor. All these new ideas became incorporated into my daily lifestyle. This made me wonder if other people were getting this kind of education. I asked my friends how often they saw their doctor, and others on whether or not working out and eating healthy was important. I quickly learned that others were not getting this same information I was. So, I immediately got enrolled in research methods classes, and tried my best to reinforce my research acumen, confidence and technical vocabulary. I had to do a final project, and my professor, Dr. Christian End, mentioned that I could make a positive impact on the well-being of the Xavier population. He told me I could use the school to help me make my mark, and gave me the tools to do so. This was when I conducted my very own research study for the first time. I studied the impact of mindfulness training on the stress levels of college students. I found significant results, that if everyone just relaxed for five minutes a day, their stress can be reduced. With these exciting and relevant findings, I applied to present my research in front of the school, but also at a higher level. The happiness I felt when I presented at a national conference in Chicago, IL was unmatched to any feeling I had from prior achievements.
I have not always aspired to be a PhD student. It took a long time of contemplating PhD or Medicine. As a little girl, I wanted to become a doctor, and while I grew, expanded my knowledge of science, increased my exposure and refined my scientific research interests to what they are today. Volunteerism has been a constant feature in my life, working at hospitals and schools whenever I could, thoroughly enjoying the interaction with multidisciplinary teams as well as patients and students. I came to want to understand their unique life challenges, noticing common threads, and was left wanting to positively contribute to the lives of many people. Even at home, I have always been by the bedside of sick family members, and was frequently turned to for my opinion; it was a role I took on willingly, conducting hours of research and talking to medical professionals, earning me the nickname “Dr. Nina” by friends and family.
Having been involved in multidisciplinary research teams, and volunteering at hospital and schools, has developed my interpersonal abilities, cultural competency, self-efficacy, self-esteem and comfort in my own skin. More importantly, my life experiences, rising above a minority background, has instilled in me a heartfelt compassion for people in similar circumstances, and an imperative need to help them help themselves, empowering them with the opportunities and tools to make it happen.
On a personal level, having been involved in so many different volunteer, academic and professional situations, I am able to interact and communicate effectively with people from all walks of life, creeds, cultures and backgrounds, and even have veritable strangers confide in me or seek advice, usually to a health-related matter. I will constantly work to create a positive environment for anyone I interact with, while also show that I am willing to work in a team to achieve a common goal. Individually, or in a team environment, I am a strong force. Working and volunteering in demanding atmospheres has given me a calm disposition, even when under great pressure. Whether it is as a college Athlete, a research coordinator, a student or a colleague, I have the ability to take on the rigors and demands of any curriculum with a positive outlook and conviction.
After careful research and consideration – a total of three years – I have found that University of Cincinnati satisfies all of my needs for an educational experience that combines the breadth and autonomy of curriculum I want, combined with the opportunity to continue my research with the same faculty and mentors who inspired me from the beginning. I was thoroughly impressed with the school after I started my MPH here, along with the prompt attention I received after indicating my interest to pursue my PhD. The University of Cincinnati represents a diverse array of students, faculty and research areas, and a quality that ensures a dynamic and stimulating educational environment. The Department of Environmental Health provides a Public Health program that is truly inspiring, fits my personal interests, ambitions and goals, with coursework that is relevant and involved.
I look forward to the rest of my time as a Bearcat and thank you for your consideration.