Creating her own path, from India to the University of Melbourne via a small town in Victoria’s Western District, means Sakshi has ended up exactly where she is meant to be.
“I was born in India. My parents are both doctors and made the decision to migrate to Australia when I was 13,” she reflects. “It was a big change at the time, being a young teenage girl and leaving everything behind…but what a wonderful experience it was”. With diverse interests in science, arts and sports, the regional Victorian lifestyle offered Sakshi plenty of opportunities, but it was a summer school experience at the University at the age of 16 that sparked a determination to study medicine, and to study it at Melbourne.
“I still remember the first day I travelled into the University…and just being in awe of this place. I just knew that this is where I wanted to study.”
Fast forward two years and Sakshi was enrolled in a Bachelor of Biomedicine and living on campus in a residential college, which eased the transition from a small country town to a thriving city campus. Quickly meeting friends through college and her course who became “like family”, Sakshi said she had some great role models. “I was friends with people who had similar goals…we helped each other and pushed each other and spent a lot of time studying and hanging out together, which obviously helped.”
Studying in the heart of Melbourne's globally recognised biomedical precinct gave Sakshi the opportunity to engage with the latest research and innovations in her field. She also enrolled in a mentoring program designed specifically for Bachelor of Biomedicine and Doctor of Medicine students, which helped her shape and choose a path in life. This eventually inspired Sakshi to return to become a mentor herself and help the next generation of students coming up through these courses.
"After finishing medicine I realised there was a strong desire to pursue something in the arts as well. It broadened my understanding of what a future in medicine could be like. I think I can work better as a doctor if some of those areas are also nurtured."
The collaborative nature of the curriculum in the Bachelor of Biomedicine forges strong bonds between the students in the course, and the ability to find her own place within a supportive and focused cohort is one of Sakshi’s happiest memories. Moreover, the opportunity to explore her passions outside of her core study through breadth subjects offered as part of the Melbourne curriculum broadened her knowledge base. One of these subjects, Music and Health, made a big impression on Sakshi, helping to deepen her understanding of the power of creative practice, and eventually influencing her approach to her medical career.
“It was a great opportunity to explore what else was out there, whether it was connected to science, or something completely different, like music or art. That was a very strong part of Melbourne for me, because after finishing medicine I realised there was a strong desire to pursue something in the arts as well. It broadened my understanding of what a future in medicine could be like. I think I can work better as a doctor if some of those areas are also nurtured.”
After being accepted into the Doctor of Medicine, Sakshi felt prepared and confident after undertaking the three years of study in the Bachelor of Biomedicine, providing a seamless entry and solid foundation to begin her medical training. Key to this was Sakshi’s choice to take a year off between her courses to explore her creative pursuits, which involved starring in a short film which was then selected to appear in the 2019 Melbourne International Film Festival — acting as a springboard for the film to appear on the global film festival circuit. Sakshi credits this exploration both during her year off, and through her undergraduate studies, for informing her choice to then specialise in psychiatry.
“In psychiatry we’re often thinking outside of the box. It is a great combination of both the medical field and the social sciences. I keep coming back to the fact that it’s made me a more rounded person, and I think that helps me in my work as a psychiatrist.”
“The University is opening up options for students to go and discover what else is out there.”