A Change in Career Path Faculty Research Inspired Alum to go into Public Health
September 13, 2019
Biological sciences alumna, Harmanpreet Bhatti ’17, entered Chapman planning to pursue a career in forensic medicine or pathology. Looking to gain more research experience, she found Dr. Georgiana Bostean’s Social Determinants of Health Research Laboratory. Joining Dr. Bostean’s laboratory ended up changing her outlook and career path.
“What I didn’t realize was how ill-informed I was about tobacco use behaviors and addiction in general. A lot of the stereotypes that I believed were perpetuated through the media over time, and I recognized that these beliefs are held by the general population as well. Because of this, I decided to continue conducting population health research, especially in the area of tobacco use, by pursuing a degree in public health. Conducting research on such subjects is important in characterizing health issues but also necessary in educating the public about the severity of these problems.” – Harmanpreet Bhatti
After graduating from Chapman in 2017, Harmanpreet went on to the Yale School of Public Health as a Master of Public Health candidate in the Chronic Disease Epidemiology department and Regulatory Science track. At Yale, Harmanpreet has been working with the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science, conducting data analysis for their electronic cigarette studies. Following graduation, she will be working as a Presidential Management Fellow at the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As Harmanpreet progresses in her career, Dr. Bostean still remains active in her professional development.
“Dr. Bostean was a major driving force in my public health career since she introduced me to the field and continues to give me life and career advice today. She’s been an amazing mentor and an inspiring researcher who I am grateful to have worked with during my undergraduate career.” – Harmanpreet Bhatti
Harmanpreet also shared with us insights into her professional and graduate school experiences at Yale. See her responses below:
Q: What was your first post-grad job and what surprised you the most about the workforce?
HB: “I started working as a biostatistics trainee with the Yale Tobacco Center of Regulatory Science last year after volunteering with them for several months. I’ve been working mostly with biostatisticians, psychologists, and researchers who have been in this field for years, so there have been times when I’ve questioned whether I’m qualified for this position. What surprised me the most when I started working here was how willing everyone was to hear your insights and opinions, regardless of what little experience you might have. I’ve heard horror stories of cutthroat work cultures, but I thankfully haven’t experienced that since I entered the public health field.
Q: What insight(s) do you have to offer Schmid students and alumni who are looking into applying to graduate school?
HB: “Figuring out if graduate school is right for you is the most important step you should complete before applying. I have friends and peers who applied to graduate school because they were worried about “wasting their time” with a gap year, but I don’t think that should be the driving force for pursuing higher education. Communicating with graduate students or even professors at Chapman to learn about their experiences can be really helpful in figuring out if graduate school would be right for you. It’s a serious (and expensive) commitment, so you should be interested in it for the right reasons instead of pursuing a degree for the sake of a few extra letters after your name.”
Q: How has your Chapman degree prepared you for Yale?
HB: “My coursework at Chapman taught me how to critically analyze existing research studies, which is something I’ve had to do in every single class at Yale for the past two years. As a student in the Honors program, I also developed an interdisciplinary perspective, which is especially necessary within the fields of health and medicine.”
Q: What advice do you have for current students who want to make the most out of their time at Chapman?
HB: “My biggest piece of advice would be to learn about as many fields as possible while you’re at Chapman. I didn’t learn about public health as a career option until my third year and thought I was a “late bloomer” in the sense that all of my friends had their minds set on their future career path by sophomore year. You’ll be a lot happier and more successful down the line if you keep an open mind and avoid comparing yourself to your peers.”
Q: Have you been involved with Chapman since graduating?
HB: “Most of my involvement has been talking to past students and other Chapman alumni to help them decide if pursuing a graduate degree is right for them. A few Chapman students have also visited the Yale campus, so I’ve been helping them see if graduate programs at Yale would be a good fit for them.”
Harmanpreet offered to be a resource for students and alumni. Here are the ways you can connect with her: