Report date
January 2021
Learning Log

Although my journey to reach this point began many moons ago, the constant theme which my parents and family instilled in me was that “the only aspect of life you control is effort.” I was not sure I wanted to apply to the Bush Fellowship and was not confident that my story would even matter. However, it was a mentor who said to me that he thought I was ready. I had doubts and in fact, I still have doubts today as to why am I a Bush Fellow. I guess it is the imposter syndrome they discussed in classes. Either way – the opportunities I gained through the fellowship is immense. It has provided me with the platform to discuss urgent matters and participate in difficult conversations. Considering we are in a once in a lifetime pandemic, which had a debilitating impact on our health, emotional wellness, finances, and more, it pushed me to my limits. Working in a hospital setting and conducting research on patients who have been affected by COVID-19 has put a substantial mark on how I see the world around me. The notion of health inequities and its manifestations in the deleterious impacts it has on certain segments of our larger community is something we as a society should pause and think about. My family alone has seen death and suffering. Others have experienced it. Not to mention over 300 thousand deaths in our country. Those individuals had stories and their stories had context. The lack of effort to ensure we can reduce the impact of this disease. Now, why does this matter in my 6 month journey in the fellowship you wonder? It has made me think about the importance of my work and how it could help contribute to the imperative change needed in order to address society’s blind sides.

First, this fellowship has given me the platform to engage with individuals of the greater community with a sense of purpose. I have been honored to meet with community leaders and elected officials to discuss the impact of their decisions to minimize COVID-19’s effects on our community. Furthermore, I was able to implement my knowledge and skillsets to develop medical devices that could be used in a clinical setting with an emphasis on equity. Under the mentorship of Dr. Karaca-Mandic, I was able to contribute to develop a platform in which we could discuss health equity in innovation with industry leaders, venture capitalists, and academics to change the lens we use to innovate. These were experiences that I would not have otherwise received. Now why does this matter? It is a question that I am still trying to find the right answer for, whatever that means. From a superficial level, I am building the network required to understand what the landscape looks like; while maintaining and nurturing those relationships is the key for success. Moreover, it helps me gain the insights to bring together the stakeholders to discuss how we can improve our global society through science and healthcare.

Second, this fellowship has pushed me to think more about what my plans are and action items I would like to accomplish. Those who know me would attest that I am a regimented person and once I make a plan, I continue to complete it. However, the initial plans I put together in the beginning of the fellowship is not what is currently on the table. I started off with the intention of pursuing an MBA to complement my academic accomplishments, however, through conversations with my mentor, coach, and peers, what I need from the program at the moment is not to gain another degree, rather to understand and reflect on what I have done and how it will come together to reach my long-term goals. It is easy for academia to penetrate in one’s own psyche and show a roadmap of paths that lead to only academia. However, what is needed to address the pressing societal, cultural, and political issues of today are practical solutions. Having to get back on the drawing board multiple times within 6-months is something that I am not truly accustomed to; however, I am satisfied with the progress I have made thus far.

As I continue on this journey – I have implemented the principles my mentors and family have instilled in me, “there is a safety net in council.” As my Bush Fellowship continues to progress, I will be in a state of sharing thoughts and ideas until we can reach a level of having a lasting impact.