“In the hope of securing a medical seat, I went to Kota after Standard XII to prepare for MBBS. However, I wasn’t able to get through the exam and pursuing a medical degree from a private college was not feasible for me either. So as per the conventional norms, I went on to pursue a Bachelor’s in Pharmaceutical Sciences from MIT, Pune. There is a general belief that anyone who pursues a degree in this subject is destined to become a pharmacist which I found quite frustrating because people thought I would be doing the same. To make it worse, I was the only person in my friend circle who had opted for this subject which made me feel isolated and lonely. At the same time, I didn’t see any other better alternative other than continuing with what I had started.
The journey wasn’t easy for me. I didn’t receive any fellowship because I was an out-of-state candidate and was therefore financially dependent on my family to pursue a PhD. In addition, I couldn’t garner enough support from my supervisor with respect to my project. I was often compared to other students; my supervisor openly expressed that she felt my project would amount to nothing. To navigate this difficult situation, I started interacting with dogs as an escape route. Everyday after the gym, I used to feed stray dogs near my house and thereby developed a strange, yet beautiful camaraderie with them.
It was one of my professors from my Master’s who then suggested I apply to the Board Research for the Nuclear Science Department in BARC. I was initially skeptical of this idea because the field was nowhere related to mine. Nevertheless, I still wrote a proposal for the same and thankfully it got accepted. It turned out I was the first student from the department after many years who had managed to secure funding from BARC and work in the area of radiopharmaceuticals. It boosted my confidence and motivated me to work hard for my PhD. I completed my PhD in just about 2.5 years with over ten publications under my belt. I also got several opportunities to give lectures in medical institutions. That experience was exhilarating because people who had socially shunned me for being a pharmacist were the very same people who were attending my lecture. I had my own image then and it helped me overcome the negative feelings I had about myself.