When Life Takes Turns: A Story from an Aspiring Neurosurgeon

Monday, October 14, 2019

A Little about me…

I am an 18 year old aspiring neurosurgeon. I come from a very ritualistic and religious background of Hinduism with roots deep down the ancient histories. I am from from Gujarat and lived in India for fourteen years of my life. 

The value of education is something that I have understood from a very young age. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to obtain more education that they wanted, because of the financial crisis they had to face. They made a commitment early in my life to do everything within their power to instill in me a love of learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work and dedication.

Because of their love and sacrifice over the years, I have been able to devote the time and energy necessary to academic accomplishment. Looking at my parents and their dedication towards what they do has made me want to work extra hard. Throughout my last 3 years of high school, I have maintained an average GPA of 4.5.

Additionally, I have also been active in my school and community outside of the classroom, serving on the student council for 1 year, CSF for 5 years, AP club for 2 years, Student Government VP for 1 year and NHS member for 2 years, and becoming a member of NSHSS in 2019. I love offering the opportunities and the help that one needs in order to succeed. I love giving back to the community that has made me who I am today.

My family has made many sacrifices to allow me to focus on education throughout schooling. I now have an opportunity to become the first person in my family to attend University in the United States, though I'm in need of financial assistance to realize what has been a long-term goal for me and a dream for my parents, so I am currently applying for scholarshipsIf selected for a scholarship, I will continue to apply the same diligence to my collegiate studies as I have to this point, making education and service to others my top priority.

A situation that sparked me interest

It was about 11 years ago…

It was a bright sunny day. Back in the home country, I remember when I was in second grade; my teacher once asked students what they wanted to be when they grew up. Everyone replied they wanted to be Superman, Spider-man, or a teacher. Soon it was my turn, the teacher asked me, “Vihasi, what you want to be when you grow up my dear?” It took me a while to think and I busted out into tears.  The teacher again asked me, “Vihasi, what is going on, why you look so upset?” I did not know how to answer this question because I thought it would make me look stupid and the whole class would make fun of me. So, the teacher came up to me, trying to ask me the reason why am I crying. I told her, I want to be a neurosurgeon; she was astonished by my answer. 

She was in deep thoughts after she heard my answer, thinking to herself that how does a kid who barely learned her alphabets, knows that she wants to be a neurosurgeon. The next day, when I went to school, she called me up in the staff room, where there were many other teachers. She asked me, “What made you want to be a neurosurgeon when you grow up?” All the teachers present were shocked after hearing that. I told the teacher, because of my mom. She asked, “I don’t understand what you are trying to say.”  It is a long story I said. She replied, would you like to share? "Sure", I replied. 

I started by telling her that, I want to see how the brain works. I want to touch a real brain. She started laughing, it made me feel like a fool, but she continued to listen. I told her, that my choice for neurosurgeon got a kick when my mom lost her vision in her right eye. During this time the whole family was shocked and we could not think of what to do. Luckily, we went straight to the doctors. The doctor said, "you are lucky you brought her in because if you waited a little longer, something bad could have happened. I want you to go see Neurosurgeon right away." We rushed her to the Neurosurgeon; we prayed for her day and night until we found out that my mother is diagnosed with a very rare disease called Multiple Sclerosis, in which the immune system attacks its own tissue and destroys myelin. At that time, I saw my mom taking injections in her eyes, and I personally could not do anything about it, but to wait there and see her go through that situation and just hope that she gets her vision back. That was the day, I promised myself that, “No matter what it takes, but this is it, I don’t want anyone else to go through what my mom went through.” In this whole process, the part that I could not digest was the fact that I could not do anything, but to sit there and pray for her. We were immensely fortunate that my mother got her vision back and now she can see perfectly fine with both eyes without the need for glasses. This event was the darkest phase of my life. The flashes of emotion due to this event still horrify me. 

Neurology is something I want to pursue because of the incident that happened in my life and because of the hunger I have for myself to be the first child that wants to be recognized as Dr. Vihasi Gandhi from the family. My dad, being the father of three daughters always wanted his daughters to be highly educated among all his family members. My dad told me one day that “it doesn’t really matter what you become but make sure that you can be capable enough that your kids get served dinner at the table every day.” That was the moment I told him that “Daddy, mark my words and I also promise you that I just won’t be capable to serve my family dinner but also to give you and mom the best life ever. You'll be known as the parents of Dr. Vihasi Gandhi.” The eagerness to change the life of my family and the urge to being the reason for the smile of the world motivates me to push myself beyond limitations. And I am confident, the time is near where I will be living my dream by making a difference in everyone’s life in one way or the other. As Walt Disney once said, “All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” is the statement I strongly live by.