Concordia was honored to welcome Dr. Ramona Bhatia, Chief Medical Advisor at the US Embassy Center for Disease Control/PEPFAR program in Vietnam, who came and spoke to all of our female middle and high school students about her career path in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
Dr. Bhatia shared her perspective as an ethnic minority woman who went into medicine, covering topics from overcoming “micro-aggressions” to making smart career moves, from taking risks to presenting at medical conferences.
Coming of age when HIV was still non-treatable, she said her “formative moment” was learning about new HIV medications and how they saved lives. “I always kept my eyes on the goal of treating HIV and that’s what motivated me,” said Dr. Bhatia.
Concordia students were thrilled with Dr. Bhatia’s talk. “Powerful,” said Vicky (G12), who is also considering attending Northwestern University, Dr. Bhatia’s alma mater. “I was actually really nervous about going to the US, but listening to her talk made me feel a little more assured and gave me confidence that I can do it.”
“The biggest takeaway from the speech was to trust yourself as a woman and a minority,” said Mana (G12). “I think that trusting yourself is the most important thing to do in order to make a life-changing decision.”
“I think today’s talk was really empowering and it showed me we should all stick together, and women should all support each other, even when we’re cut off and people discourage us, we should keep persevering and achieve the things that we deserve,” Jenny (G11), who recently founded Concordia’s ‘Girl Up’ Club.
“The speech today was really inspiring to me because I was able to learn how important it is for women to fight for a career in STEAM just as men do,” said Eva (G6).
“As a person that’s interested in the STEM field, this experience was valuable. I could learn from a person in the field and get good advice. It’s interesting to see how there is still discrimination. I really enjoyed the presentation,” said Yu Huyeon (G10).
Also joining the meeting by video was Dr. Lauren Kahre, whose STEM career has spanned from astronomy to data science. “It was really helpful to hear from Dr. Kahre, because I’m interested in astronomy and her words were really helpful,” said Na Hyun (G11).
“For me, this talk was very informative and empowering. It gave me a lot of insight into how women can become really accomplished in their career of choice,” said Matilda (G11).
"It was really inspiring because I wasn’t sure about my future, but through her speech, I learned more about her career and what experience we can use to build our own future,” said Sarah (G6).
“I got to learn a lot of things about my future and what to do in different situations. I actually got to talk to her face to face, so I think it was a really good experience,” said Erika (G6).
“It was a great opportunity to learn from a role model what a STEM career actually looks like," said Hai Yen (G11), "not just the good parts, but also the challenges, and the ways in which you can overcome them. The tips she offered were readily applicable for students as we try to navigate a career in STEM and evaluate our options. It’s nice to hear from someone who’s made it reaffirm our abilities and our potential.”
Dr. Bhatia left the students with her “5 Lessons Learned”:
- Seek mentorship and networks
- Work hard and be productive - seek opportunities
- Take risks
- Rely on your abilities, know your worth, negotiate pay, have confidence yet be humble
- Enjoy your work and life, and find a work-life balance.