June 17, 2016
My name is Urvashi Pandya and I am a fourth year undergraduate student from Johns Creek, GA double majoring in Health Promotion & Behavior and Spanish. I will graduate from my Spanish degree this May and formally graduate from the College of Public Health in the fall after completing my internship (although I will get to walk with my amazing classmates in May!). When coming into college and selecting a major, I wanted to ensure that the degree I pursued would allow me to work with people on a personal level while combining my interest in health; by choosing to double major in Health Promotion and Spanish, I hoped to join my interests while allowing myself to communicate with minority populations.
Throughout my time at the University of Georgia, I have gained invaluable experience through mentorship from faculty, undergraduate research, and internships. My second year here, I joined the research team of Dr. Nathan Hansen and Dr. Tamora Callands through which I was introduced to global mental health research and their work in post-conflict settings such as Liberia. Through their research, I began to take a particular interest in the intersection of intimate partner violence, mental health, and sexuality and have since directed my independent research towards these topics.
Additionally, I have had the opportunity to extend my learning beyond the university. After my second year here, I interned in Indonesia for a summer working on a tobacco cessation campaign that partnered with Indonesian schools, orphanages, and the Indonesian Heart Foundation. Through this experience, I learned to overcome all barriers (including language!) to create a relevant and culturally sensitive campaign. I was also fortunate to travel to Peru twice, once to learn medical Spanish terminology and the workings of the Peruvian healthcare system, and the second time to intern with a nonprofit cervical cancer clinic in Cusco. My time in Peru helped me understand the challenges of geographic location and deep-rooted cultural norms such as machismo that prevent women from receiving regular and timely gynecological attention. Finally, my adventures outside of the classroom have taken me to Honduras, where I spent a brief but engaging week working on rural health care delivery and the prevention of infectious diseases.
I have been blessed to attend a university that has given me the opportunity to grow and explore with the support of peers and professors. I strive to carry the spirit of what I have learned with me, with the intent of bringing equality in health and quality of life to all people. After graduation, I will work with a company called HolaDoctor, which specializes in Hispanic healthcare delivery. In the future, I hope to pursue a Master’s and PhD in Health Promotion & Behavior and teach at the collegiate level while conducting research on mental health in ethnic minorities, women, and the LGBTQ community.