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With Right Attitude – You can survive in Australia or Anywhere

- Dr. Srujana Sahebajda, The project Manager at Melbourne’s Fight Corneal Blindness Registry and CERA award winner -2016
My family background
I am a daughter of professors of Osmania university-Prof S V Satyanarayana and Prof K Bharathi. I am married to Mr Shiva Chikoti who works as a Bank Manager in Australia. I am really lucky to have a very supportive family without whom, I wouldn’t have been able to go so far and achieve so much.

My parents encouraged me as a child saying that they would reward me for topping my class, by sponsoring for a poor child to study. That was a very big motivational factor for me and I studied hard and stood in the top or atleast top 3 to help someone.

After completing my 10th Standard from St Joseph’s Public School (ICSE syllabus), I did M/BiPC from “Nasr School” and was lucky to be one of the only 3 students who took it.

I came out with topping Physics and Chemistry and receiving Gold medals for the same in ISC and I got a decent score to get into medicine or engineering in EAMCET.

I opted for BS Optometry course offered by BITS Pilani, in collaboration with L V Prasad Eye Institute. It is a specialised course that incorporates Maths and Sciences. I completed the course with Distinction and took up work at L V Prasad Eye Institute.

PhD Admission at the University of Melbourne
My urge to take up Postgraduate Research came from my involvement in the project “Genetics of Myopia or short sightedness” as a part of my Bachelors course that affected 2 billion people worldwide.

Optometry was then newly introduced and further courses weren’t available for me in India. That was the time when I met my mentor Prof Paul Baird who was actively involved in various eye related genetics projects in Melbourne, came to India to attend the Anti -myopia conference.

I was then fortunate to get admission and scholarships at The University of Melbourne.

Scholarship for fee remission and living allowances
I was fortunate to have received Melbourne International Fee Remission Scholarship which covered my tuition fees and Melbourne Research Scholarship covered for my living allowances. I completed my PhD in 2013 and since then working as a Post Doctoral Research Fellow at Centre for Eye Research Australia (CERA).

During my PhD, I also completed “Graduate Certificate in Advanced Leadership & Learning” which has polished my skills.

Current roles
I am now the Early Career Researcher at the University of Melbourne; the Project Manager for the Melbourne’s Fight Corneal Blindness Registry and the project lead for the Australian Study of Keratoconus (ASK) at CERA.

Despite being less than 2.5 years post-PhD, my work in this field has been acknowledged both nationally and internationally. I have secured more than $200,000 in competitive funding and have presented my findings at conferences in the USA, Europe, Taiwan, India and Australia.

CERA award for Community Engagement
I have been involved in the “Scientist in Program” organised by Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) to educate school students about science and mathematics. I was invited by Indian Consulate in Australia to talk about Australian Culture and Behaviour to the new Indian Students.

It is in recognition to the work, I was honoured to receive “CERA award for Community Engagement and Knowledge transfer” on May 18th 2016.

Being a girl is not Inferior
If you have a dream and work for it-you can always achieve it. Till date, never in my life have I felt that I am a girl or inferior. Being a girl is in fact more advantageous as you have the motherly hormones in you which make you more empathetic towards things and help you contribute more.

With right attitude, you can survive anywhere
My parents never hesitated to send me alone to Melbourne to pursue my studies, they were always confident that I will not deviate from my aim and will cope well. It is that confidence that they instilled in me that I could easily face the initial adjustment issues and build a family for myself in Australia. It is not easy to leave your home country-but if you have the right attitude, you can survive anywhere and everywhere.

High regard for my mother land
There are a few times that people asked me-why I am living in Australia, leaving India. Well I am having an opportunity to pursue my career and so I am in Australia. Lest I haven’t forgotten my mother land-I always have high regard and that’s why I try to collaborate with Indian researchers and work on combined projects. In fact I feel proud that I am taking Indian values and name across continents.

Finally, my goal is to establish myself as a person who is useful for the society, with whatever best I can contribute and glorify the name of the parents and my motherland.
Published date : 04 Jun 2016 03:18PM

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