Sneha Acharya: A researcher willing to fight for her dreams!
Sneha Acharya is currently working as a lecturer in Nepal Institute of Health Sciences, Jorpati. With a Bachelor’s in Nursing from Kathmandu University, Ms. Acharya used her brilliant mind to successively secure the scholarship provided by ASEAN Hub, with which she received her Master in Science specializing in the field of Epidemiology, from Prince Songkla University. She has been involved in several research works, and currently mentors students of medical, nursing and public health sectors on Research and Data analysis!
- Have you always wanted to pursue a career in the health sector? What/Who was your inspiration to enter into this field?
Ans: I always had a dream to pursue a career in the field of health. I wanted to work closely with human beings in general. Ever since I was a child I had a certain fascination with white coats and medical service providers. While I was young, at the age of 12-13 years, my mother became sick and while taking care of her I came to realize that human life is precious and people play a very important role in taking care of the entire population.
- You received your bachelor’s in nursing but then switched to the field of epidemiology. What made you want to make such a switch?
Ans: Honestly speaking, I had never thought of making this switch but all of a when I was working after completing my bachelor’s, I stared developing an interest towards research. I came to understand that research is something that makes you independent, innovative and works as a change agent. Research challenges you to discover things that others deem unimaginable. The challenge, innovation and capacity of making a change in the existing theories are the major aspects of research that made me switch from nursing to epidemiology. Further I would like to state that I have not completely left my nursing roots behind, but I have empowered myself, as well and expanded my knowledge and understanding of research through Epidemiology which I can always integrate with Nursing and work for its betterment in the future.
- There are not very Nepalese women current involved in STEM (Science/Technology/English/Math). It surely must have been very difficult to get people to take you seriously and believe in you. Could you share some of the major obstacles you had to overcome during the process of starting up? How many of these obstacles do you think you had to face just because you were a female?
Ans: Certainly, there are always several hurdles while you are fighting for a change or while you are trying to separate yourself from the norm. There were some life changing obstacles that I had to face while starting my career. For me one of the most difficult aspects was convincing the people near and dear to me that a girl need not be married with a man and bear children in order to “well settled.” I was raised in a Brahmin family, where no one ever dreamed of going against family’s decisions. However, I was and still am a rebel. I knew I was going to bring down these walls of restrictions. I left my hometown to life in the city and decided to try and make it on my own by living life according to my own terms. It was difficult finding a job, and got rejected by nursing colleges many times. There was a time when I was almost out of money! I believe most of the struggles that I have had to face in my life is just because I am a female. Being a female, it was considered “wrong” when I decided to start a job, being a female I was hardly supported in my decision of not getting married and exploring my different abilities and potentials!
- What changes do you think should happen in order to make the field of epidemiology and research to make it more accessible and approachable to other young women?
Ans: Well, I must say that getting involved in research is something thing that needs a lot motivation. If there is something that drives you, then you will be fascinated with research and its bodies. However, in Nepal we are just starting to germinate in the field of research. Thus, we can empower young women that have this thirst with the research tools, materials, and trainings related to research. Moreover, it is important to develop insight about the importance of research in this era and the role of a woman as researcher.
- Are you working on any current research projects or any upcoming projects that might look into some problems in relation to SRHR?
Ans: I have been working on several individual research activities. I can’t stop myself from doing research and studies. Every single day, no matter how busy is my day but I manage time to go through some interesting papers and get the idea for the new study. Currently, I am working on a study about antibiotic resistance and public awareness about it. Moreover, I am working on sexuality of adolescents, problems they are facing and the impact of internet on their sexuality.
- What advice can you give to other young women who would like to bring a change but simply do not know how?
Ans: I believe that women have lots of strength within themselves. What matters is how and when you will be able to find that strength. Try to believe in yourselves and never give up in your dreams. You will be successful when you are able to make walls from the bricks thrown at you. So, when someone tries to pull you down or when you are asked to give up then turn a deaf ear towards them and continue with the journey that you have decided on. Actions will always speak louder than words. So start doing, not just waiting for the time to come!
Sneha, you are so amazing! It is the first time that YWFC has had the opportunity of witnessing the wheels turn in the brain of a researcher, that too of such a fantastic female! We at YWFC wish you all the very best in your future endeavours! We hope you will always be able to prove those that discourage you wrong, and that you will use your works to empower young women, break the glass ceilings and shatter all the boundaries constructed by society!