Student Highlight – Sheetal Sawant is a second-year MPH student in biostatistics. She was born in Mumbai (still known as Bombay to many), the biggest city in India, and went to school in a scenic suburb on the outskirts of Mumbai. Her journey in the field of health care began when her sister joined the School of Medicine to pursue bachelor’s degrees in Ayurvedic medicine and surgery. Four years later Sheetal followed her sister into the world of medicine and health care and joined the School of Dentistry. She completed her bachelor’s in dental surgery from the prestigious Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, and practiced dentistry for about three and a half years in Mumbai.
The preventive and community dentistry experiences that Sheetal gained during her bachelor’s internship at St. George Government Dental College, Mumbai, along with her firsthand experience serving the community under the guidance of an experienced dental surgeon in Mumbai, further strengthened her interest in the field of dental public health. She moved to Omaha in 2009, and was accepted into the College of Public Health (COPH) MPH program at UNMC in fall 2010. She has been a graduate assistant in the COPH Department of Biostatistics since spring 2011.
The warm and welcoming atmosphere is what Sheetal admires most about the COPH. The key features that attracted her to consider pursuing her MPH were the friendly and helpful nature of the faculty and staff and the funding opportunities that are provided to the students. According to Sheetal, the opportunity to work on real-life projects related to her field of interest via the service-learning/capstone experience and internship opportunities are the highlights of the program. She is currently working on two projects, one with the Omaha District Dental Society and another with the Office of Oral Health and Dentistry, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. Sheetal believes that her coursework and her work on real-life projects have helped her get a better taste of and be well prepared to further her interest in the field of dental public health.