[Miss Sujana Regmi has recently gained her Master’s Degree from reputed Imperial College London. She comes from a prestigious Nepali family who is the daughter of Dr. Krishna Raj Regmi and Mrs. Sharada Regmi residing in Reading, UK]
On behalf of Londonkathmandu.com, Trilochan Gautam recently spoke to her and here it follows.
Trilochan: Congratulations Sujana, you’ve recently graduated from a reputed university. So, what’s that you’ve studied and how did the passion develop?
Sujana: Thank you. I studied Molecular Biology with virology and my journey developed from my passion for science. This was fuelled by my surroundings mainly from my family members. They have been exposing me to the hospital from an early age when I had an opportunity to visit the workplace of my mum and my cousins. I met many people from various walks of life, and hence, seen the medical life in Nepal very early on. I saw the procedures doctors did and knew the names of drugs and diseases that were prevalent in the Nepalese community.
Trilochan: Interesting! So your study is focussed on virology? What helped you determine to pursue this study further?
Sujana: Naturally, since we moved to the UK, I continued exploring further the medical system here through my volunteering work and studies. I saw differences between the healthcare system both in Nepal and the UK. It was interesting to see the variations in treatments of patients between two countries as well as the working backgrounds. While I was continuing with my hospital volunteering and studies, I began to have a deep interest in diseases especially the spread and infectivity. What intrigued me the most during my academia is the development of drugs especially the different mechanisms that they use to work. How does paracetamol reduce pain? How do asthma inhalers help people to breathe? Hence, my interest in chemistry, biology and maths grew very seriously earlier on doing school.
Trilochan: It’s good that you have linked your study (virology) to reality to public life. Tell us at what point did you determine to make it a career?
Sujana: During my university years, I was able to explore at greater depth the science behind medical biology, especially during my microbiology modules this was the first time I was introduced to the world of infectious diseases and microbiology. During my summer placement after my second year, I was working on the development of foot and mouth disease virus vaccine for cattle. I learned a lot about not only viruses but also about medical research. This moment was the turning point in my career where I realised my heart and passion lies within the field of virology.
Trilochan: How does the specialization on your subject relate to the current health issues spot on?
Sujana: My Master’s Degree was in ‘molecular biology’ specialising in virology, where I learned about many viruses, their mechanism and structures. It fascinated me knowing that these microscopic beings are able to manipulate the most complex of organisms (such as humans) and hijack our body to cause the most terrible diseases that are still causing damage all around the world today such as HIV, Hepatitis C, Ebola and Zika. One of the most difficult things to treat in the world has become viral diseases. To control and prevent viral diseases has become one of the greatest challenges that we face as mankind. My particular project was on hepatitis C virus and I specialised in the life cycle of hepatitis C virus that causes hepatocellular carcinoma also known as liver cancer. I found out that hepatitis C has a very unusual way of replicating (dividing) inside our liver cells but it is still not widely understood. Moreover, it affects millions of people around the world every day and has become a real concern in medicine.
Trilochan: Thank you for all useful information. Having gained remarkable knowledge with your bold steps both in academia and charity works alongside, what actually you have done?
Sujana: My future goals and aspirations lie in medical research and I want to truly make a difference in people’s lives. However, to truly understand the extent of the problem, you have to go and visually see and understand the depths and the struggles of other people. This is why I also do charity work, to understand and face the real problem society is facing. It has taken me all over the world and in that process, I have learned a lot about the struggle people face daily – especially in healthcare. My visit to Ethiopia this year has made me more aware of the things I take for granted here such as food, shelter, healthcare and most importantly education. I was involved in many campaigns in Ethiopia, we raised awareness in many issues such as mental health, health and hygiene as well as menstrual health. This was done in the form of interactive workshops, taking lessons in the classroom and by organising a local community day. I worked with a charity called Hawassa Childrens Organisation and went on visits around the town visiting poverty-stricken areas, evaluating peoples living conditions and assisting in health checkups. This was an eye-opening experience as I got to truly see the worst poverty can do to a community.
Moreover, other countries such as, Nepal, our birthplace, is also in need of dire support. I do believe the situation in Nepal is improving though, certainly, in my lifetime, I have already seen the changes. It takes individuals to change one community and it takes communities to change the nation.
I realised to truly make a difference in the long-term, education is very important. Poverty is present in many countries but one of the best ways of eradicating poverty is through education especially in health care. Educating about the prevention is much better than treatment, economically and for the long-term sustainability of the country. My absolute dream would be love to continue work in viral medical research while combining my interest and passion for charity work.
Trilochan: Well said. All of us should be proud of you on such ambitions for charity works. Finally, as a fresh graduate, what would you like to share with university starters as helpful tips?
Sujana: My advice to anyone out there who is struggling to decide on a career path or future goals is to start small and build from the bottom. Learn, read and question everything around you. Curiosity and ingenuity go side by side. What interests you? That’s your passion. What do the world and society need or benefit from? That’s your mission. Combine your passion and mission then you will get your profession. Whether it’s in science, maths, English, art, dance or music, following your passion will guarantee not only happiness to you but for many around you. Some people jump and claim that you have to study sciences or engineering to succeed in life, while still watching and enjoying movies and listening to music by other people who have succeeded doing something completely different. So, what I am trying to say is there really isn’t one-way track to success: though, I do believe, passion, creativity and hard work is a must in any field to succeed! I am still in the beginning stages of what I hope will become a long career in research but I do believe that there are better things to come!
Trilochan: Thank you Sujana, all the best!