For an entire decade, Pavneet Banga, MD, contemplated going back to school. Everyday life, family, and multiple relocation opportunities stalled her studies. She kept thinking, “will that gap time be an obstacle to my success?” One conversation later, she was ready to pursue her public health interest in epidemics and pandemics.
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great good fortune."
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg
These words, spoken by the late Supreme court justice, resonate within me as I continue my journey in the field of public health. This expedition did not start from my first semester in the Michigan State University (MSU) Master’s in Public Health (MPH) program during the summer of 2019. My voyage to uncovering this career path started in medical school and continues today. During this journey, I realized how everyday life and my family life played a significant role in shaping my path.
I grew up with the notion that I will be practicing as a medical doctor in my adult years. During my undergraduate years at the University of Georgia, I worked hard and achieved a Biochemistry and Molecular biology degree in 2006. My studies continued with medical school in the Caribbean islands after which, I received my Doctor of Medicine degree in 2010.
While in medical school, I became intrigued with the concept of preventative strategies to improve the health of the whole community. Moreover, the rate at which a disease spreads in a population was a notion that I desired to study further. I became fascinated with “epidemics and pandemics” and the field of epidemiology. During this time, I discovered that my studies would not end with medical school.
However, the next piece of the puzzle was waiting to be connected to the other pieces of my life. I met my husband in 2009, and we started a new chapter. Over the span of 11 years, we relocated a total of six times for my husband’s job and further studies, after which we ended up settling in West Michigan. In the past ten years of my life, I contemplated going back to school, but family hurdles presented themselves along the way.
After settling in Michigan, my husband encouraged me to pursue my passion for completing further studies. I kept thinking that the gap time since my last classroom training will prove to be an obstacle. However, after conversing with an advisor in the MPH program, I became confident in my decision to pursue public health. Currently, I am in the second year of the MPH program, and it has been one of the best decisions of my life. I have had the fortune of working with some esteemed professors and other staff who have encouraged and motivated me to adhere to my path.
I envision myself working towards a career in epidemiology, health equity, and social epidemiology in the near future. These concepts have profoundly impacted my life after attending Dr. Renee Branch Canady’s class and Dr. Betsy Wasilevich’s class. I am looking forward to enhancing my knowledge further in social epidemiology in Dr. Robey Champine’s class. Lastly, I am thankful that what I had considered barriers in my life, in truth, were stepping-stones along a course leading me to MSU.
Student Voice by:
Pavneet Banga, MD
Michigan State University
College of Human Medicine
Master of Public Health Student
June 10, 2021