“I was very close to my grandmother. When she fell sick, I was the one who would bring her medicines, thinking I could save her life with those. I was intrigued by the composition of the drugs she was given and would wonder how they were made. That’s where my passion for research came from. I wanted to learn in detail how things worked.
But when I had to leave home for my Master’s, I became terribly homesick. I could barely survive. My academic performances suffered too. Those two years were the hardest period of my life.
Although I wanted to do research I didn’t want to stay away from my family, my biggest support system. I guess I didn’t want to choose between the two because they were both equally important to me.
I was on cloud nine when I got through the PhD program at NII. It meant I could pursue my passion yet not be away from home. Perhaps that’s why in all these five years I never had a breakdown, I always had my family around me. Obviously life during PhD is stressful but the stress never bogged me down.
On a different note, I have never been a topper in my class. I have always lacked the energy or patience to cover each and every topic of my syllabus but given my 100% to the subjects I did study and scored the highest in those. My teachers loved me for that. That’s a quality I have retained in my PhD too. I put my soul into what I do and that’s what you need in the long run to survive in this field. Focusing on your goal is the key to getting that degree. Also sometimes you don’t need to choose between family and career, they can go hand in hand.”
-Sowmiya Gupta, PhD in Immunology, National Institute of Immunology, New Delhi