When your favorite professor walks into the lecture hall, carrying her saree effortlessly and managing a graceful smile while she greets you Good Morning, have you wondered what her origin story is? Do you wonder what it must’ve been like for them, growing up and what lies ahead for them? We had the chance to interview some familiar faces we see across campus and ask them about their journey. Read ahead to find out:
- Dr. Judith (Dean, Manipal College of Nursing Sciences)
Dr. Judith, Dean of MCONS models her lifestyle after the epithet, ‘Life is a choice, not a chance.’And truly, she does make the most of every moment of her day. Although initially interested in engineering, she took up basic sciences in college at her father’s behest. She later took a nursing degree on the advice of Father Muller, the man she credits her career to. She then mentioned that she went on to specialize in obstetric and gynecological nursing. Patient satisfaction is a strong motivator for her – she recounts an incident in her third year of training when a patient recognized her tiredness and offered her coconut water.
No matter the hurdles Dr. Judith had to overcome in the workplace, she acknowledges that none of it would have been possible without the relentless and unwavering support of her family. Her husband and mother stepped up to help in the household and child care, allowing her to advance her career.
She also credits the strong female role models she came across during her training years with her ascent to success. They instilled in her the importance of discipline and punctuality – two principles she lives her life by. When asked about maintaining a proportionate work-home balance, Dr. Judith said that it was of paramount importance to leave work at the threshold of home. Her husband, a marine engineer, is often away for protracted periods of time, and navigating the household and the workplace alone often proves treacherous. She feels blessed to have had such a fruitful career and feels as though any different decision in her past would have far-reaching effects on her current status. She ended the interview on a contemplative note, offering advice to the young women of our generation. One should not be afraid to chase their dreams and should have clear achievable goals. She also speaks against impulsiveness, saying that every choice needs to be made after due consideration.
- Dr. Vidya Saraswathi M (Associate Dean, Manipal College of Dental Sciences)
Dr. Vidya Saraswati, the Associate Dean of MCODS stands as the embodiment of the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility” and she truly holds all her responsibilities with grace. Despite coming from a family of business, she chose to pursue Dentistry as she always held Doctors in high regard. From working as a Professor to HoD to Deputy Director of Student Affairs to the Associate Dean now, she’s a strong believer in accepting what comes one way and striving in it with absolute dedication.
While she misses being a mentor to her students, she believes that in her position now, she’s able to reach out to a larger audience, and being able to serve others, through an administrative role, brings her a bigger sense of accomplishment. She’s an extremely driven, motivated, and passionate woman who derives her strength from her family, (both, the one at work and the one at home) yoga, and through practicing spiritual acts. She mentions an inspiring hack of learning to apply things she learned from work and applying aspects from work at home. Her mantra lies from the lines of Bhagavad Gita, where Lord Krishna says that “one must do one’s duties, but one has no control over the fruits. “It is important to practice Aparigraha, non-attachment, and allow life to flow through you.” this is an important message Dr. Vidya says. When asked if there was a message she’d give to her younger self, she said there was nothing she would say because there’s nothing she’d have done differently along her path.
- Dr. Jyothsana Manikkath (Professor, Manipal College of Pharmaceutical Sciences)
Dr. Jyothsna Manikkath, assistant Professor of Pharmaceutics at MCOPS, is a perseverant, motivated, and compassionate researcher, professor, and person. With the support of her family, she followed her father’s footsteps into the world of pharmacy and has not looked back since. Moreover, her excellence in the field is derived from her passion “to do something for the people”, as she put it. She was captivated by the behind-the-scenes work that aids doctors and pushes medicine ahead. She cherishes her career because of the direct impact not only on patients from the generic drugs provided by her but also on her students by imparting her ideas. Early on in her career, a guiding force, CEO of Dr. Reddy’s laboratory- Dr. GV Prasad-, inspired her to pursue research promising her fruition as long as she is not demotivated- which she has held till date.
Dr. Jyotsna, takes pride in being a woman in the pharma world, maintaining that being in the 21st century, society does not and cannot hold her back, rather she gains more respect from mentors and colleagues alike. She insists that irrespective of gender, a ‘work-life’ balance can easily be established and that the only true hurdle is oneself. When asked what advice she would give to the younger generation of girls aspiring to be where she is at, she said that confidence is key; girls and boys alike should hold their heads high irrespective of what they know or don’t know. On the occasion of women’s day, her message to us is: “Women’s Day should remind one irrespective of gender to channel their inner femininity and help bring the much-required balance the world needs”.
Mrs. Sidhiprada Mohapatra from MCHP is a soft-spoken yet ferociously woke woman. She believes in keeping in touch with your roots and always giving back to the community. In her youth, she was exposed to certain circumstances that made her realize the privilege that she had growing up. As a kid, she always looked up to her grandparents. Her grandfather taught her to stand up for the welfare of fellow vulnerable members of society. She also mentions her grandmother whom she considers to be the pillar of inspiration regarding finances to this day, regardless of her academic qualifications. She lights up with kindness as she talks about her grandfather’s inspiring activism in society. Out of compassion for the vulnerable and marginalized section of society, she dedicated the rest of her life to helping others.
Despite her family’s doubts and gender roles she stayed strong and worked her way through her career. Overcoming the inequity barriers, oppression of vulnerable groups continues to be the backbone of her work. She takes pride in trusting her patients reaching out to her in dire need of healthcare assistance. As a working woman and a mother, she strives to be an example of balance. She is ambitious yet mindful of her role as a medium of providing service in the healthcare industry. She is also very concerned about the capitalization of healthcare in modern society. When asked about the advice she would give to younger generations, she reminds us to be kind to ourselves and the people around us.
- Dr. Saktthi Shanmuganathan (Senior Resident, Kasturba Medical College)
Dr. Saktthi Shanmuganathan, a senior resident of KMC is the only female orthopedic surgeon in the department. She initially chose medicine to fulfill her father’s dreams, only to find her passion in Orthopedics. Fascinated by its hands-on approach and unpredictable nature, she’s carved a niche where she treads her journey of learning more by doing more. The only stumbling block is the hesitance some patients express at being treated by a woman, not believing in their strength to mend their broken bones. But it’s their doubt that drives her until they too acknowledge her worth in her field. This perseverance is an heirloom of her mother, who motivated her by telling her, “To never cower but instead analyze every challenge before solving it.”
With the great support system of her parents, co-residents, and under the guidance of her seniors, Dr. Sakkhthi endeavors to always meet the standards set by her forefathers in this field. She believes that there are weak men and strong women and your strength is determined by yourself, not your gender. She hopes more people begin accepting the unique value female orthopedics can bring to the team. Her main aim lies at the crux of her favorite quote, “Whenever you enter a new system, firstly, the system ignores you. Secondly, It resists you. Then, the system accepts you, and finally, you redefine the system.” With ever-growing acceptance in the orthopedic field for women, She hopes to one day redefine this system.
Interviewed by MTTN Crew
Written by MTTN Crew
Featured Image by ANVESH
Photographed by MTTN Crew