The inaugural 40 Under 40 Public Health Catalyst Awards aim to highlight the rising leaders and innovators of the public health field. The Boston Congress of Public Health (BCPH) and the HPHR Journal selected a group of “leaders, entrepreneurs, researchers, scientists, activists”, and doctors that will inspire the next generations of public health workers to change the world. The individuals featured for this award have not only shown excellent work performance and an extensive academic history but have also brought innovative solutions to public health issues around the world.
The NYC Daily Post interviewed 40 under 40 award winners to learn about their career journeys leading up to their nominations.
Q1. What’s a piece of advice you’ve received that has impacted your career journey?
“Don’t look back but always give back.” It has helped me to stop second-guessing every career step that I’ve taken and has ensured that I continue my outreach efforts no matter what.
Q2. Do you have a mentor you’d like to recognize? If so, what would you like to say to them?
Dr. Joseph Calabrese- thank you for the million and one opportunities and the many many more that you will continue to send my way! They have helped shape my professional journey and will continue to do so.
Q3. What advice would you give a young professional beginning their career in your field?
Dental Medicine is a diverse field. If someone had told me when I was starting dental school that one day I’d be treating centenarians by day, teaching and getting published by noon and serving on the board of various dental organizations by evening – I’d think they were crazy! Each professional journey is unique and it is what one makes of it. Refuse to be boxed in by definitions. Disruptors make great leaders and often create their own success stories.
Q4. If you could do one thing, leave one mark, on your profession, what would it be?
Influence public policy to provide universal access to oral healthcare so that older adults don’t have to worry about being able to afford visits to the dental office after retirement. Oral health and systemic health are related and oral health affects the quality of life. People should be able to smile, sing, talk, and eat for their entire lives and not just when they are young.
Q5. Name a challenge you’ve faced and how it turned out.
A pandemic pregnancy and providing continuity of care to my geriatric patients housed in long-term care throughout the peaks of the Covid-19 pandemic during my pregnancy. While it was stressful at the time, it turned out ok. With the innumerable blessings of my older adult patients, I remained healthy throughout and gave birth to a beautiful baby boy in 2021.
Q6. What is your ultimate career goal as you see it today?
Hopefully working with Doctors Without Borders (someday) to provide oral healthcare to those parts of the world where going to the dentist is not routine for older adults.
Q7. What alternate role(s) would you be interested in pursuing?
Interprofessional medical education, providing essential oral health education to all specialties within medicine.
Q8. What core values are important to succeeding in your professional field?
Passion to serve, dedication to one’s profession, and the drive to constantly learn about new techniques and technology.
Q9. Ten years ago, I thought I would be …
Where I am today!
I read my ‘Statement of purpose’ a few days ago (the one I wrote when I was applying to postdoc residency programs 14 years ago). It appears that I wanted to do all of the things that I am doing currently in my professional capacity. There are a few more things in that statement that I will strive to achieve in the future.
Q10. Ten years from now, I want to be …
Able to have a bigger global impact than I have currently – especially in shaping the future of Geriatric Dental Medicine and Dental Public Health.
Q11. Would you want to acknowledge any family/friends/partners (beyond mentors)? If so, who?
My grandparents – they are the reason I practice geriatric dental medicine, my grandma turns 98 in a few days!
My parents – they are a constant source of inspiration, they prove that hard work always pays off in the end.
My husband – who is indeed my better half and challenges me to a better version of myself daily.
My son – for whom I want to make the world a better place in every little way I can.
Q12. Please indicate your hometown, place of study, degree field(s), and an interesting fact about yourself.
Mumbai, India but currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts
Boston University Henry M Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Advanced Education in General Dentistry and Dental Public Health
Interesting fact- I’m an avid gardener!