An Interview with Jyotshila, a Public Health Major and Undergraduate Research Advocate
Jyotshila is a Public Health student gaining hands-on experience researching Global Health Emergency Medicine during her time at CU Denver. While interviewing with EUReCA! Student Ambassador, Jacob Torrens, she talks about the persistence needed to find the right type of research for her interests and personality.
Jacob Torrens: Let’s just start at the beginning, what is your major? And how'd you get to that?
Jyotshila Dhakal: Right now, I am majoring in Public Health B.S. track. I chose public health because I want to be a doctor. I want to get my MD in the United States and then I would like to go back to my country. I come from a very rural part of Nepal and the place I was born is still not found on Google Maps. My end goal is to hopefully create a mobile clinic, and education centers for children and women. That’s what I want to do with my life.
Jacob Torrens: That is incredible.
Jyotshila Dhakal: It’s no small feat, it’s going to take work.
BS Public Health (expected)
Jacob Torrens: Could you tell me a bit about your research?
Jyotshila Dhakal: I am currently with the EUReCA! program, I am working with Dr. Corey Bills researching Global Health Emergency Medicine. Currently, we are working to understand how access to ambulances affects people's access to emergency medicine. If you live far away, you have a less chance of surviving than if you live near a hospital. I'm doing a systematic review compiling and reading articles about that. At the end, I want to write about how we could make sure that most people have access to emergency needs.
I'm also compiling data about hospitals in Africa. For example, in Sierra Leone, there's only 50 hospitals, less than how many we have in Colorado. So we are looking at data to understand how we could help with infrastructure or how we could talk to governments to build better hospitals, to have better access etc... In this research, specifically, we focus on global medicine from a perspective of actions that need to be taken by the healthcare field to aid the public, and that is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.
In this research, specifically, we focus on global medicine from a perspective of actions that need to be taken by the healthcare field to aid the public, and that is what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.
Jacob Torrens: How did you get into research with your current mentor?
Jyotshila Dhakal: Between Freshmen and Sophomore year, I received an opportunity to conduct bench research via the EUReCA! Summer Fellowship Program. However, through the experience, I realized that I learn better by interacting with the community and understanding different ways one’s health can be affected negatively. I loved being able to connect the science I was learning in my classes to research, but I wanted to view the science in a populational level.
So I just kept looking on Handshake jobs. And then Dr. Bills popped up with EUReCA! Work-Study, and I was like, “Wow!” I looked into some of the research he had done in the past. I didn't want to start off on the back foot because I am very cautious of how I interact professionally. I actually emailed Dr. Bills and I was like, “Hi, I'm very interested in your program.” So he could be aware that I did apply. it was quite nerve racking, but he was very nice. He was actually like, “Okay, thank you for letting me know, thank you for deciding to move forward with your application.” I feel like, even though we are nervous, people who are getting our interviews and applications aren't as harsh as we think they are.
Jacob Torrens: It sounds like you’ve done both versions of lab work. Could you tell me a little bit about what you liked about both and you didn't like about those environments?
Jyotshila Dhakal: I think lab research is more about trial and error and I really like that part of planning out. But I didn't like the fact that I was just working in a lab pipetting things versus talking to people and understanding how their health is affected by science. And then in terms of clinical research, what I have done so far, I don't have anything that I dislike. I have been very blessed to have an amazing P.I. He cares a lot, and I can see that and it makes me really love it. Overall, I have loved everything that I'm doing because I have a goal in mind and this experience will help me get one step closer to that goal.
Finding a fruitful research experience that you love is all about trial and error. If one opportunity does not work out, please do not think it is not for you. Instead, use that opportunity to self-reflect and understand how you want to serve others.
Jacob Torrens: You have a lot going on… how are you able to keep going?
Jyotshila Dhakal: Why I want to be a doctor, and why I want to serve people is literally why I wake up every morning. I have a deeper understanding of myself to know that I am one of the lucky ones who has the ability to even get an education. I feel like by being a doctor, by becoming an educated person, I can help poor people who do not have a voice and I believe there are many of us who do not have a voice.
Jacob Torrens: Yeah. And that's, incredible.
Jyotshila Dhakal: Thank you.
Jacob Torrens: Just in closing, what words of wisdom would you share?
Jyotshila Dhakal: Finding a fruitful research experience that you love is all about trial and error. If one opportunity does not work out, please do not think it is not for you. Instead, use that opportunity to self-reflect and understand how you want to serve others. Also, network, network, network. Meeting with people and asking them to be my mentors helped me get some of the life-changing opportunities that I am doing right now. Get to know what type of things you like. Even though it's looking at other things, research teaches you a lot about yourself and what you work with, how you work, who you want to work with.
Jacob Torrens: Yeah, definitely. And thank you for sharing that.
Interested in learning more about Undergraduate Research Opportunities at CU Denver? Get started by looking for research postings in Handshake, or setting up an appointment with the Office of Undergraduate Research & Creative Activities!