Student Spotlight: Sandhya H. Advani

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November 4, 2013

Tell us about yourself.

I graduated Magna Cum Laude from North Carolina State University with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Biological Sciences.  I was a University Scholar, served as a University Ambassador, and managed to stay pretty busy with different organizations across campus.  Some of my organizations included being the fellowship chair and a volunteer tutor for Habitat for Humanity, Phi Eta Sigma Honors Fraternity, and Psi Chi Honors Fraternity.  I was also a recipient of the Charles Stone Scholarship, a scholarship for students studying within the social sciences. 

Currently, I am a research coder under Dr. Jennifer Monahan, for the Institute for Behavioral Research, through UGA’s Department of Communication Studies and its partnership with Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health. I also volunteer once a week at Ellison, Walton & Byrne, a newly opened urology practice in the Athens community.


What brought you to UGA?

When I decided that I wanted to pursue graduate school for public health I knew I wanted to be able to experience a true college town, but still have access to lots of different opportunities.  UGA became one of my top choices and when I came for a personalized tour of the College of Public Health with my family, I instantly felt like I was at home.  It was definitely one of those moments where I just knew this was the place for me. 


What interests you most about health policy and management?

We are definitely living in a time where healthcare policies and regulations are constantly changing.  This is an area of expertise that always has something to talk about, whether it is about a specific policy or how to be an effective manager and leader; I feel like you can’t help but be interested!

I chose to concentrate in Health Policy and Management, most specifically the management side, for a couple different reasons.  I always knew that I wanted to be involved in healthcare, helping people in some way, but I also knew that a clinical career was not something I wanted to pursue at this time. 

I also come from a family with a strong business and management background.  My family’s influence left me intrigued on what it takes to make an organization work and be successful, no matter what the industry. Once I became aware of this specific concentration within public health I knew this would be an exciting opportunity to learn the importance of management in the healthcare industry. I quickly realized that I would still be able to help people, just in a way that I never knew I could before.  This was the perfect opportunity for me to get the best of both worlds and knew I had to pursue it.


What has been your favorite class so far?

I would have to say my favorite class so far has been Strategic Management (HPAM 8890) with Dr. Lloyd.  I have never been challenged, like I have in that course, to think outside of the box, and of course think strategically.  Dr. Lloyd has a way of making you realize things you would have never thought of before the course.  He also prepares you for real-life issues that healthcare executives face everyday and does it in such a way that you never have time to look at the clock.


Where did you complete your internship?

I completed my internship at Wuxi Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Wuxi, China.  At the CDC, I worked in the Department of Public Health Management conducting data surveillance, data analysis, and data presentation primarily on water quality. I also did some work with air quality and food safety.  It was an amazing internship that showed me how all five realms of public health work together to protect the health of people. 


What was your favorite aspect of your internship?

My favorite thing about my internship was that I was always learning, even outside of work.  I think that is one of the biggest perks of being able to complete your internship outside of your home country.  Not only was I learning essential skills and techniques at work, but once I left work I was also constantly learning about the culture, the city, and about myself!


What was the most useful tool or skill you had to opportunity to develop during your internship?

I would have to say the most useful skill I learned from my internship is being able to keep an open-mind.  Being in a country completely different from the one I was born and raised in presented several cultural and language barriers.  It was definitely a learning experience on both ends and I was constantly being pushed out of my element. Through my internship I was able to realize that with patience and an open-mind everything will work out fine, no matter what the task, issue, or circumstance.


Any advice for students getting ready for their internships?

I suggest looking in to internship possibilities as soon as possible! It never hurts to have an idea of what types of internships are available to you.  It also helps to go to all of the internship placement events and talk to people who have already done their internships to see if they could serve as a good resource for you during your internship search.  Lastly, don’t limit yourself!  I never thought I would end up in China, but it was an opportunity that fell in to my lap and I am so glad I took advantage of it!


Plans/hopes for after you graduate?

I am graduating this upcoming December and I am currently going through the interview process for potential career options.  After graduation, I will have hopefully made a decision on what job offer I would like to take.


Anything else you wish to share?

The HPAM department has been so helpful throughout my graduate experience.  I spend almost everyday in the department, but I know that I am always welcome there.  Whenever I have a question or need help with something I always go to my department, because I know that they will lead me in the right direction.  My department has definitely made my graduate experience that much better.