The last 12 months have been unique for me. First, the entire concept of what it means to be a Bush Fellow was rewarding, yet humbling. I knew that it would open doors and enable me to have a platform to share my views. Having been on committees that helped direct some of the efforts of Destination Medical Center in Rochester to helping inform leaders to make decisions at a national level. These experiences were invigorating.
Second, I focused on my own wellbeing and health. In the beginning, I would talk about the importance of living a balanced lifestyle, however, it was rare for me to be able to stay consistent. After the major surge of COVID-19 cases in late 2020, I had succumbed to this disease and it had ramifications both physically and emotionally. It was at this time that I decided that I needed to take care of myself and my health. After all I was not getting any younger! Ever since, I joined a gym and made sure through the support of colleagues (who hold me accountable) to workout daily and eat well. This also includes having sufficient sleep per night. Furthermore, this past 12-months have been quite difficult emotionally as I have lost many family members and friends. For those who know me would vouch that “Essa does not show his emotions publicly.” This is something that I needed to change and to show vulnerability to whom I care about. I have gotten support to deal with my process of healing and rejuvenating my spirit. Leadership requires vulnerability and the acknowledgement that it is ok to be human.
Third, I participated in the University of Minnesota’s Bakken Medical Devices Center and learned how to take a concept from ideation to human application. I had worked in an interdisciplinary team of engineers, surgeons, and investors to help me realize an idea that can be patented. We were able to do that! Specifically, we learned how millions of individuals with breast cancer-related lymphedema live with this debilitating condition without any effective treatment modalities. After meeting 100+ individuals who either suffer from lymphedema or treat patients who suffer from lymphedema enabled us to rewrite narrative by humanizing their condition. A phrase I would like to resonate publicly is “Humanize my Physiology.” Due to this understanding, I will utilize my platform to ensure that concerns related to the lack of lymphedema treatments and/or access to treatment is addressed at a Congressional level. I have joined organizations that push to influence politicians to be aware of this condition and more importantly to pass legislation to have Medicare and Medicaid coverage of lymphedema treatment and management.
All in all, this past 12-months have been unique and humbling. I will continue to build from these experiences as I plan to implement long-term sustainable habits in the development my leadership skills.