"A degree in public health will allow me to create a bigger impact in the lives of the people outside the walls of the clinic. A lot of people who desperately need healthcare services oftentimes cannot afford them."
First, tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you attend undergrad and what was your area of study? [Vedushi] I grew up in the small town of Ambala, in India. My grandmother’s wish, and my passion for medicine led me to choose the field of dentistry. I did my undergrad in dentistry from Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Karnataka, India.
What drew you to public health?
[Vedushi] As a dentist in India, I always felt that people were not aware of even their basic oral health needs. This is mainly due to lack of knowledge, accessibility, and affordability to healthcare services. I wanted to address this issue at the core by changing the existing policies and practices in the state, and changing people’s perception about how to handle their oral hygiene. A degree in public health will allow me to create a bigger impact in the lives of the people outside the walls of the clinic. A lot of people who desperately need healthcare services oftentimes cannot afford them.
What specific area of public health do you care the most about and why? [Vedushi] I want to learn more about the policies and practices that govern the U.S. healthcare system and my work and research will be focused on dismantling the existing structural racism that exists in our healthcare system.
How are you addressing this issue? [Vedushi] I’m addressing this issue by targeting policymakers with policy proposals focused on improving existing dental insurance plans. Another way that I’m addressing these issues is by sharing my voice through op-eds to help people realize that these health equity problems are bigger than most people realize. I recently wrote an op-ed on how the opioid crisis is disproportionately affecting American Indians here in Minnesota.
Are you currently involved in any public health research or professional work? [Vedushi] I am currently working as a Health Visit Assistant with the 10K Families Study (10KFS). The 10KFS is a cohort study that looks at lifestyle, genetic, and environmental influences on health and developing diseases.
What has been your favorite class so far? [Vedushi] Principles of Health Policy (PubH 6735) taught by Professor Katy Kozhimannil has been my favorite. The energy and passion that Katy brings to the class every morning made me fall in love with the subject. She made me realize that our voice really matters and that we can make a change if you voice your opinion and work towards changing the ‘norms’.
In what ways is the school a good fit for you? [Vedushi] Being an international student is never an easy task, but at the U of M School of Public Health, every individual is recognized and valued. I’ve met so many people from different backgrounds and I’m really grateful to have such encouraging professors and peers. The school really brings out the best in you.