Japji Bindra earned the honor of serving as the winter 2017 student commencement speaker for the School of Public Health. Listen to her speech as part of the December 20 commencement ceremony.
In one sentence, what is public health to you?
For me, public health is a multi-facetted umbrella which works to prevent disease, benefit the environment, promote social justice, advocate for equity, and encourage overall healthy living.
What inspired you to study public health?
Initially, I didn’t have a clear picture of what public health was. I only knew bits and pieces about it through my sister who is an epidemiologist. However, upon taking my first Introduction to Public Health (Health130) course, I fell in love with the concept of making not only yours, but also other’s lives healthier by individual and combined efforts.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that the public health field should be focusing on?
I think that a big challenge that the public health field should be focusing on is equity. A large component of equity is addressing the disparities that exist currently. We must acknowledge the disparities that occur in our structures, inter-personal relationships, and our own beliefs. Furthermore, we must think about how to propel change to help reduce these disparities.
Why did you choose public health at UMD?
I chose public health at UMD because I felt that that the faculty and staff truly wanted me to succeed. The School of Public Health was always my safe haven throughout my undergrad years. I knew I could count on different professors, advisors, and staff members to guide me in the right direction.
How has your degree program at UMD’s School of Public Health shaped your career goals?
Public health is concerned with all aspects of health, but primarily focused in preventative care. Nursing on the other hand, focuses on direct, hands-on patient care. Combining preventative and tertiary care is very useful, as it looks at health from a holistic viewpoint, which I find to be very important to help reduce errors in care. For this reason, I think pursuing a graduate degree in nursing, while having a bachelor’s degree in community health is a natural fit. I will be attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore for the Clinical Nurse Leadership (CNL) graduate program this Spring.
What person or experience had the greatest impact on you during your degree program?
During my degree program, one of the greatest experiences I had was that of being a Sexual Education and Reproductive Health (SHARE) peer educator through the University Health Center. During this peer education program, I was able to educate college groups and individuals about sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the resources that were available for them to be sexually healthy. I found this experience to be extremely valuable because not only was I able to educate others about their reproductive health, but I also helped reduce the stigma that is often associated with this topic. Seeing that reproductive health is a taboo and uncomfortable topic, I would like to practice nursing gynecology in adolescents and young adults to help bridge the gap between stigma and effective health care.