Episode 23_ Reflecting on one year of PH SPOTlight, with Sujani, hosted by Lathika (1)

Reflecting on one year of PH SPOTlight, with Sujani

hosted by:

Show Notes

In this final episode of 2020, the mic is turned on Sujani as she gets interviewed by her friend Lathika about the one year journey of producing the PH SPOTlight podcast. In this celebratory episode, they talk about the past, present, and future of PH SPOT.

You’ll Learn

  • How Sujani is feeling about one year of podcasting, especially having launched PHSpotlight a few months before the pandemic started
  • Sujani’s full story of discovering public health and her journey; Lathika shares her similar journey to discovering public health
  • The two talk about PH SPOT and how it has become a great platform for those who will be discovering the field of public health, especially since the pandemic has shown a spotlight on this field
  • Going back to 2017, Sujani talks about the launch of PH SPOT, the two moments she realised the need for such a platform and the project that kickstarted what we see as the platform today
  • What motivates the team to continue PH SPOT
  • Discussion on the popular podcast episodes/topics of 2020 and what to expect for 2021
  • Sujani’s journey into entrepreneurship, which started off from an assignment during her Master of Public health degree, which lead to the founding of her not-for-profit organization and eventually PH SPOT
  • Tips for individuals in the field of public health interested in entrepreneurship
  • Sujani’s final message to the PH SPOT community that the platform is a community driven iniative and that this is your platform!

Today’s Guest

Sujani Sivanantharajah

After guiding a number of public health students and new grads since 2013, Sujani created PH SPOT to reach, inspire and support public health professionals. Sujani enjoys seeing people around her grow and become the best version of themselves! She is obsessed with elevating the people behind public health.

Today’s Host

Lathika Laguwaran

Lathika Laguwaran is a Research Manager at the Global Strategy Lab. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of Saskatchewan and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Toronto. At GSL, Lathika manages the day to day operations of the lab while taking the lead on research projects pertaining to health news misinformation and international law. Her passion for public health has led her to be actively involved in the Tamil Health Association (a not for profit organization that serves the Tamil community in Toronto) as the Director of Community Health Research and a Board of Director for the Human Rights Internet (a not for profit organization that focuses on human rights information and resources relevant to Canada). Lathika was previously the Assistant Director of the Global Health Law Clinic.

Resources

Other PH SPOT resources:

Episode Transcript

Lathika 0:00
I think in a lot of your podcasts, you always sort of talk a little bit about your own experiences and some of the things that you kind of encountered. But I don’t think we’ve ever heard of your story of how you sort of got into public health and-

Sujani 0:15
Welcome to PH SPOTlight, a community for you to build your public health career with. Join Us Weekly right here. And I’ll be here too your host Sujani Siva from PH SPOT.

Sujani 0:37
Hey, what’s up, everyone, thank you for joining me today on another episode of PH SPOTlight, a space for you and me and everyone else in public health to share our stories and inspire each other. This is episode number 23, and the final episode of 2020. If you’ve been following us, since the beginning of 2020, you know that this is the first year that we launched PH SPOTlight. So it’s an episode to celebrate and an episode that’s a little bit different from our previous ones. As you know, my name is Sujani Siva, the host of PH SPOTlight, and I’m here to help you build your public health career. I’m typically the host of this podcast episode, I do solo episodes on various topics of interest. But I also bring on individuals and interview them to ask them about their career journeys in public health. On this episode, though, I am sitting on the other side of the mic and I am being interviewed by a good friend of mine, Lathika. And her name might sound familiar because she was a guest on PH SPOTlight. And we chatted about her career as a research coordinator as a global health research organization and how she balances her family life as well as her career. So that’s a great episode, we will link that up in the show notes page if you want to check that out. And on this episode, Lathika interviews me and talks about how running PH SPOTlight for one year has been, how I got into starting PH SPOT, which will be celebrating its fourth year in 2021. And what we have in store for a PH SPOT for 2021. So it’s a very fun episode for me, and it was something that we planned to do a year ago. So I’m really happy that we got to sit down and chat a little bit about PH SPOT and the podcast and just about public health. And so I hope you enjoy this episode. And without further ado, here is the host of this episode, Lathika.

Lathika 3:01
Okay, well, first off, I’m thrilled to be on this episode of your podcast because I know it’s the very last one of the year. So I want to say congratulations on not only launching the podcast this year, but keeping up with it throughout the pandemic. I know it’s a lot of hard work, sweat and tears, especially for someone who has a full time job that’s directly impacted by the pandemic. So just kind of want to ask you like, how do you feel about what you’ve accomplished? And how this year has sort of shaped up in terms of the PH SPOTlight podcasts?

Sujani 3:35
Sweat and tears is the right description for how this year has been with this podcast for sure. No, thank you so much. I think, you know, like everyone, the year started off, like so exciting. Especially we were launching PH SPOTlight, there’s so much excitement, I was pumped to do, what was it two podcasts a month so that was every other week. And so, I committed to that. We went through it for the first quarter. And then I had only kind of like batched podcasts for the first quarter. And I figured you know, seeing how the first quarter goes, I would record into the second quarter and I could you know, keep up with it. Do a couple here and there and be very consistent with it. And then the pandemic happened, I guess, you know, kind of late March, April is when things really got real and I like, other people could not keep up with my regular tasks, PH SPOT included. Working full time just having a different I guess lifestyle, threw off my routine. So that excitement about launching the podcasts and doing it consistently, I’d say kind of weaned off during that period of the summer. Like many people I think we were all trying to get into this new routine. And also like we saw the podcast listeners kind of drop. So we’d get over hundreds of listeners every time we would launch our episode. But then after, you know, April, we saw that really tank, we were getting maybe 20-30 people listening to it. And that was understandable. We saw some other stats on other podcasts and other people were saying the same thing because people weren’t having commutes anymore, right? So a new routine that people needed to find. And I think even with myself, I completely dropped listening to podcasts, because I wasn’t biking to work or, you know, driving anywhere. And so I sort of made this decision that we’d kind of pause our regular podcast episodes during that summer period. And kind of just release one whenever the time felt right. And so we kind of continued that over the summer. And then towards the end of the summer, we saw that the stats were kind of picking up again, and maybe people got into their new routines. And, you know, with myself, I started listening to podcasts, for example, when I was cooking or doing the dishes. So you’re you get into this new routine. And so you can, I guess, pick up on your regular tasks that you were doing, previous to the pandemic. And so I felt like, you know, seeing the stats, again, I got my motivation back to get back into podcasting. And I must say, it was hard getting back into it, getting that motivation again. But I’m glad I did it, because I think into that third, fourth quarter, we’re in the fourth quarter now. But in that third quarter, we had some really good episodes, including the one where the University of Toronto launched the Doctor of Public Health programs. So that was super exciting news, I got to chat with the individual who kind of spearheaded that initiative. So, you know, even though we got a low period in the middle, I’d say I’m pretty proud of the first year even though, while being in it, I wasn’t too proud of what we were delivering, but in hindsight, kind of just looking back and reflecting on it, feeling pretty good.

Lathika 7:13
You know, I think many of us could not have imagined a pandemic sort of coming into our year the way that it did. And so just being able to put out podcasts when you could, it’s just like an amazing accomplishment. And like I said, you had a full time job where it was directly impacted by the pandemic where you had to continuously work. And so just by having these podcasts, and I was able to sort of listen to the ones that came out after sort of the summer time. And I really liked the content that you put out. So I think you still did a great job of just pushing through and making sure that there was some support left for the public health community. I know we really needed it, there was a lot of us working through long hours and just having to do with changing times and getting used to what we’re getting used to in our new normal. And so yes, you should be very proud of yourself. And congratulations again. So yeah, I guess I mean, just hearing you talk, I really want to sort of go back to the beginning of when you first heard about public health. I think in a lot of your podcasts, you always sort of talk a little bit about your own experiences and some of the things that you kind of encountered, but I don’t think we’ve ever heard of your story of how you sort of got into public health. And you know, when you first heard about public health even, and so maybe you can talk about that.

Sujani 8:42
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Now that you mentioned it that way, I do kind of just go over the fact that I discovered public health, but not really how exactly I discovered it. So I think many people know that by reading my blog posts or listening to some of my podcast episodes that I started my undergraduate degree wanting to kind of go into the sciences and specifically dentistry. And so initially, I had this interest to build and I also had an interest in like biology and sciences. And so for some reason my brain came up with the idea of a dentist because you know, you do work with your hand. And so I went in with that thought, took all of my you know, biology and chemistry and physics and everything else you needed to do to get into dental school and truthfully, I was not enjoying any of those courses. I wasn’t enjoying it and I wasn’t doing well. And I’m not a slacker I had really good marks throughout my high school and elementary and if I really liked a subject, I was really good at it. And so not seeing great marks was probably an indication that I wasn’t truly enjoying the content that I was consuming. But there was you know, you get these elective courses that you can choose. And for some reason, I ended up taking a course called Plagues and People, even though kind of the content that we had to read and understand was challenging for my brain then, when I was in the lectures, I was totally consumed, like I would go in. And I would love listening to the professor talk about all these epidemics that took place around the world, or, you know, the 1918 pandemic. And, you know, in comparison, in my biology and physics class, for example, I would sometimes fall asleep. So there was a drastic difference in how much I was engaged in my Plagues and People’s class.

Lathika 10:45
Right.

Sujani 10:45
And that course was actually taught by Dr. Kirsty Duncan, and she is our, I think she’s still our science minister. And so she used to be a professor at the University of Toronto, and then she went on to join the Liberal Party. And so she would talk about not only, you know, the topics that we learned in class, but also her specific experience. She wrote about the 1918, Spanish flu, some of the work that she had done on the ground. And so, you know, just doing some of the research to understand the history of that. And yeah, I was totally blown away. And I think I had started sharing this, like, new interest for the space, I didn’t know what it was called. Now, I know that it’s public health, but I had a friend who actually knew the word epidemiology. And so when I was explaining to him about this class, he kind of mentioned, you should check out epidemiologist. So you know, I think that kind of started it, and I started researching about it. And this was probably back in 2007-2008. So the Master of Public Health program wasn’t as popular as it is now, I think there was a program at the University of Toronto and a couple of kind of sprinkled across the country. And so just looking into what I could do next, I decided, you know, I’m going to change my degree in biology and go into health studies. And even then, the courses that were available for health studies were also sparse. You had to take, you know, some biology courses that would count towards your health studies degree. And so I did that, there were a handful of courses, but nothing like what’s available today, now that I sometimes look at the course offerings. It’s amazing. Like, I think what the students are learning now is truly, truly amazing to what we had offered back in 2007-08. And so yeah, I think, you know, I just started with that second semester, where I decided I changed my degree. And here we are today. I- you know, I went into my Master’s of Public Health Program. That’s where we both met, even though we had kind of friends who were common. We had to meet out in Saskatoon, I guess.

Lathika 13:11
Yeah, no, I mean, my journey was actually very similar to yours. It’s funny hearing your story, because I also was so limited in understanding what public health was when I first started my undergraduate degree, I had no idea it was even a field. And I taken that one off elective course, which was called Clinical Epidemiology at the time, and I took the course and I was like, wow, why had I never heard of these terms, or this field before? And just like you biology and chemistry, just kind of focusing on sort of this, I guess it was more of a small picture for me, at the time, was very difficult to connect in my brain. And just hearing about public health, it sort of made me realize, well, I understand now there’s, there’s a bigger picture that we can kind of work towards in terms of health. And so I think many people probably had the same realization as us during that time. And like you said, it’s so different now. People are hearing about public health even before they go to undergrad, which is amazing. And so that already opens up so many opportunities to learn more, and find out what else you can do in terms of careers, just from the onset, I think, while we were in undergrad, we were probably just trying to go one step at a time, like, okay, we’re gonna do our master’s degree, and then what comes next. And so it’s just amazing how the field has grown so much. And now with the pandemic. We’re only going to see more booms in the field, and there’s going to be a lot more interested individuals wanting to get into public health. So I think PH SPOT is going to be such a great platform for those individuals that are looking to hear more stories about public health and just kind of getting more advice on whether it’s the field for them and what they can kind of go into in the future.

Sujani 15:03
Yeah, absolutely. And I think, you know, I met, I guess, touch base with this group out in, at the McMaster University, they have an undergraduate in public health. And they even have a, I guess, a public health student association made up of all undergraduate students who are pursuing public health. And yeah, it’s so cool. And you know, sometimes I also hear from different followers of PH SPOT via email. And I think just recently, somebody who was in high school emailed me saying, they’re also looking into pursuing public health, and that’s what they’re interested in. And I’m just mind blown. Figure out, like, how did you learn about public health at such a young age, right? I mean, you know, my younger cousins all know about it, because of me, but maybe that’s also their stories. But yeah, I do hope that PH SPOT becomes a centralized hub for people wanting to discover a career in public health, and that we can offer all the resources and guidance and tools for people to kind of figure out where it is they want to play a role in public health.

Lathika 16:12
Yeah. So I mean, okay, so we fast forward to 2017. And this is when you launched PH SPOT, you still remember the moment that you realize you needed a platform like this for the community?

Sujani 16:26
Yeah, I guess it kind of happened in two different parts. So when I graduated from my Master’s of Public Health, they moved back to Ontario. And I would get a ton of emails or messages on LinkedIn asking about my journey. And I guess, you know, at that time, people were also discovering public health a lot more than they were earlier and more programs were popping up across the country. And so I think people were just interested to hear about public health, how the program was, and what I was doing now. And so I remember one summer, I just spent my entire time at Starbucks. So when individuals would, would message me, I offer them to meet me at Starbucks, and I’d speak to them, tell them my story. And also, like, encourage them to reach out and talk to other people, because my story was only one of you know, 1000s and 1000s, of other stories. And my perspective only came from one master’s program. So I would encourage them to, you know, do something similar that they had done with me reach out to other people learn about their careers. And so one summer, I was doing that back to back to back like the entire weekend and realized this wasn’t sustainable for me. And also, you know, for students who are a bit more shy, and they’re not willing to reach out like the ones who had reached out to me, it’s kind of unfair, it felt in my head. And so, you know, I had that thought brewing in my head and thought, you know, there could be a way where I could connect more people. Rather than just like word of mouth and giving them different people’s email addresses, there had to be a way. And so that was kind of one of those moments. And I’d say, maybe a few months after that, I had a friend who was trying to learn how to code. So he was also in the sciences, but he wanted to learn how to build websites and code from scratch. And when I had met up with them, he was kind of telling us how far he’s gotten in the coding process. And I was asking him, you know, are you applying this to a specific project, or you just kind of learning the theory? And he said, yeah, he was just kind of learning the theory, he doesn’t really have any projects in mind. And so I thought it’d be cool if he could learn how to code but also, you know, put it towards something that could be useful. So I gave him the idea of, why don’t you set up a system where I will give you, you know, hundreds of public health organization’s website, like their career pages, and see if you can code it so that it pulls every single job posting into a centralized page. And so that was the idea that we came up with and he was gonna go back and, you know, try out his learnings on this one project, right? And so I was really just imagining this black and white webpage he’s going to come with it would say, you know, the name of the job and the organization it would look blank and boring and that’s all it was expecting. Right? So he comes I guess a few weeks later with his like, finished product and what he had done was, you know, made it like this beautiful website with the homepage and an about us page and then this like job board, and it kind of, I guess, like I got excited and I thought, wow, like this could be something, something else and just a project for him to, to like have fun. And so, you know, it was myself, my husband or boyfriend at the time. I meant our friend and his girlfriend, we kind of just talked about it whenever we had time and, you know, built up this idea for this platform, we thought, you know, adding a blog could be good because of my initial realization that people needed to know other people’s stories. So we started collecting blog posts from people within my network. And so this whole thing came together. And it was like a product that we were excited to release to people. And so we released it, and then realized that the job board wasn’t necessarily doing a great job at filtering out public health jobs, because you know, you could have organizations like the public health- Public Health Ontario, for example, where they have public health jobs, but they also have IT jobs and history jobs. So we weren’t skilled enough at that time to be able to filter those out. And so the job board became like, like what you would find on Indeed, or LinkedIn where if you typed in public health, sometimes you get good jobs sometimes. So you know, the blog, though, picked up, people were super interested in the blog. So that sort of gave us indication that we should definitely continue this platform, whatever it was, but the blog seems to be a lot more valuable than this job board. So we did end up though, thinking you know, handpick jobs are more valuable, because you have a human behind who’s actually going through and filtering out jobs for individuals in the public health field. So then, we took down the job board and ended up doing the newsletters, which we’re still continuing to do nowadays. And so with the newsletter of handpick jobs and the blog, that’s kind of what PH SPOT first, I guess started off as and, you know, my two friends, because they didn’t have a background in public health, it was hard for them to kind of keep motivated, because, you know, he came in with wanting to code and there wasn’t any of that anymore, because we were able to do it on a simpler platform. So they decided that they weren’t going to continue with PH SPOT. So myself and my husband ended up continuing to yeah, just build this platform with different ideas that we come up with every day.

Lathika 22:19
That’s awesome. Yeah. And I remember listening to your podcast with Kajanth. Where you guys talk about the behind the scenes of PH SPOT? And I think one of the things that really stood out to me was you guys talking about what kept you motivated to continue with PH SPOT, and it was really hearing, you know, hearing from people about their sort of comments or opinions on like, the different blog posts, and even getting emails in the middle of the night telling you, you know, that they were motivated to kind of continue on the journey that they’re going and they felt supported in the community, which was so nice to hear. And I’m pretty sure validating for you guys, when you spent all this time putting these newsletters and everything together. And I’m sure in 2017, you probably thought there was a need, but you didn’t know how much of a need it probably was.

Sujani 23:11
Yeah.

Lathika 23:12
That point. And I guess with the podcast itself, one of the things that I’m always interested in hearing about is what, you know, have been the most popular topics on the podcast, and which podcast episode in your mind, I guess, maybe surprised you in terms of the amount of listeners and just like comments and emails that you might have received based on that podcast?

Sujani 23:37
Yeah, no, that’s a good question. So I don’t know if you remember, before we started the podcast. We had asked people what sort of topics they wanted to hear about. And so we had everything from do you want to hear about people’s career journeys? Or do you want to hear like advice and tips? Did you want to hear from startups that had a help angle? And so when I did that survey, I was really surprised that people wanted to hear from entrepreneurs in the health space. So that was, yeah, that was shocking to me. I don’t know why. But I had just put that in there. Because I was interested in hearing from startups who were in the health space. So that initial survey did surprise me. And I don’t think I’ve been able to do too many of those episodes, but for 2021 I am hoping to do that. And so yeah, Kajanth and I were talking about this yesterday, perhaps, you know, he could take on some of those entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs who are in the health space and interview them because he is in the tech and kind of startup space. So it kind of surprised me right off the bat. But then, you know, the the ones that have been popular I guess, of the ones that we have released. The top one is definitely related to job applications. So I don’t know if you remember, there was one with Kiriga, she’s a HR professional. And that was a really good episode, I think, you know, I tried to keep our episodes like under 45 minutes, 30 minutes, but that one just ended up going over an hour. And that was one of the top ones. And I think, you know, individuals are always looking for job application tips. And especially coming from an HR professional working at a public health unit. I think that’s where the value was. And she just provided like solid tangible tips for individuals. And I am hoping to bring her back to talk about more- more, I guess, topics around job applications. So for those of you who love that episode, stay tuned. And if Kyriga’s listening, she doesn’t know, but I do want her back.

Lathika 25:55
And maybe you can even see if any of the listeners have specific questions related to job applications that she might be willing to answer.

Sujani 26:04
Yeah, absolutely. And then like the the one with the Doctor of Public Health Program that was with Erica at the University of Toronto, that was also one of our popular ones, second popular one, actually. So probably because that one got published more widely within the University of Toronto network. I think they had it in their newsletter and on possibly on their website. So we did get a few more eyes on that one. And then I guess the third popular one was the one with Leah Roman, on consulting in public health. So again, around this, you know, getting hired in public health, I think is a popular topic. People are always looking for guidance and tips on that, I guess, like the consulting topic, and also going to go under the entrepreneurship bucket. And so I’m yeah, super excited, I think for 2021 to explore more of these topics that have been popular.

Lathika 27:04
That’s awesome. Yeah, I think that even learning about the doctor in public health program, it’s such a, it’s a new program to Canada, first of all, and so it’s really exciting that the University of Toronto has launched that. And I think it’ll be exciting to hear in the future students that are sort of in the program and what they think about it. And yeah, moving forward, what that’s gonna look like. So that was definitely a very cool podcast. And I mean, there are so many topics that you covered in the last year even. And I think there’s so much that you could probably continue doing in the future. So where, I mean, I guess, where do you see PH SPOTlight heading in terms of the future? What topics can we expect to hear about? And how is the pandemic going to maybe change some of the topics you thought you might want to focus on? And what you might want to now focus on in terms of, yeah, post pandemic stuff? Or?

Sujani 28:06
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I guess I thought about 2021. A little bit. But I hadn’t thought about how the pandemic and maybe how would that affect the topics on the podcasts or even kind of within PH SPOT? So I don’t know that I have a good answer on that front. But I will definitely think about it a bit more.

Lathika 28:30
I think you probably you actually did mention this in your podcast with Kajanth. I think you had mentioned something about showcasing what public health professionals are doing in terms of COVID-19 responses and all of that. And I think that would be such a cool podcast to sort of listen to kind of just hearing different perspectives of what people are working on.

Sujani 28:54
Yeah.

Lathika 28:54
But yeah, like you said, probably other things that are related to the pandemic, that could be topics as well.

Sujani 29:01
Yeah, totally. I was gonna say, I think at the very least, we want to hear from the community as to you know, how their work has changed as a result of the pandemic, you know, are they still working on the same things? Did their work completely turn on its head, and they’re now completely COVID focused? So that’ll be quite interesting to hear from individuals. I think I’ve heard a mix, just in my casual conversations, a mix of both where individuals work have just continued to be the same because they’re in a different space, or that, you know, like, my work completely changed and everything is COVID focused. So definitely, we’ll do more of those kind of, you know, a day in the life of different professionals. Just hearing about people’s career journeys. And, you know, like I said, the entrepreneurial side of public health it’s, it’s been a bit challenging to find, I guess, startups specifically within the public health space, but you know, in the broader sense of health, we can find a ton of different startups. And you and I were talking about this before we started recording, you know, the space of public health is so huge. And you can essentially bring back any sort of product or topic and kind of discuss how it does impact public health. So I think we just need to be a bit more creative and kind of identifying some of these very cool startups that are, you know, changing the way our health is improving in the world. So I’m excited to explore that a bit more and just find individuals across the world, you know, a lot of our contributors have been predominantly Canadian only because, you know, my network is within Canada. But slowly for PH SPOT, one of the things I do want to do is make it truly global. We do attract, I’d say maybe 30% of our followers are from different parts of the world and majority are in Canada, but I truly like to make it much more global and bring in perspectives from around the world. Because I think, you know, public health is, it’s the same across the world, but it’s also different in other parts of the world. So just bringing it all together under this platform will be super cool.

Lathika 31:21
Oh, I definitely agree. I think that would be such a great perspective to hear from other people doing public health work in different countries, where situations are not always the same. And yeah, like even being in a program like we were in where we had a mix of international students, being in our classes, just kind of hearing about their own experiences from their own countries. I mean, wow, that was definitely an eye opener. And I think it really changed the way I thought about public health. And yeah, just different concepts and how it could be applied to different situations. So I would love to see that for PH SPOT, having a more international focus and having a wider international audience. I guess the other thing that I really wanted to sort of talk about is, so PH SPOT is definitely been something that you’ve been working on for a while. And you always have had this sort of like entrepreneurial drive. I want to sort of talk about, like, where do you think that comes from? And are other people that are interested in sort of becoming entrepreneurs, especially in sort of the health field? What sort of advice do you have for them?

Sujani 32:36
Ah, that’s funny that you say that it looks like I’ve always had an entrepreneurial drive. And actually, that’s not true. So I was, I guess, completely against entrepreneurship and business. I don’t know why. Ever since I could remember, up until my masters, and so, you know, like, my older sister is in the field of like business and marketing. And she’d always we’d always have debates about, you know, business and entrepreneurship as a way to go. And I be like, No, it’s not. And so we used to have these debates back when I was younger. And then I think something about my masters changed me. I don’t know if it was the new environment, or it was just kind of learning about different topics and identifying problems that really spoke to me that I wanted to find solutions for. And so I remember, kind of the first thing that really triggered that idea in my head was an assignment. I can’t remember what course it was for, but we kind of had to do some research and come up with a solution for this problem. And I think I was researching about just the access to health information within the Tamil community back in Toronto. And so I think my paper was kind of based on that, you know, are people able to find the information that they’re looking for? If they were to jump online, or go to their healthcare practitioner or whatever, wherever they access their information, and soon, I figured out that it was not easy to find the information that you were looking for, especially if you were someone where English was not your first language. And so that kind of triggered in my head, this idea of like a strong problem that I was very much attached to. And so in this paper, or this project, I proposed this centralized platform where I could bring together health information in the language of my community. And that was sort of for the purpose of this assignment. And that’s kind of where the not for profit organization that we’re both part of Lathika kind of was born out of, and so I remember talking to you and some of our other friends during our master’s program about this organization. So initially, it started off as a website that I could potentially build to solve this problem. But then it kind of evolved into this organization where we could actually do community research to solve some of these problems that we were identifying. And I think that was my true start to the world of entrepreneurship. And I think from there, I really kind of started identifying problems and just thinking, why can’t I solve this? There must be a way I can solve this, right? So instead of thinking, somebody should solve this, you kind of turn that statement and say, How can I solve this? And I think that’s where people who are interested in exploring, like the field of entrepreneurship are coming up with solutions for problems in their life. If you just identify all the different things in your life that you’re struggling with, or you, you think is a barrier, turn that question and say, like, how can I come up with a solution to solve this problem, because if I’m having this problem, then many others are probably having similar problems.

Lathika 36:14
I think that’s so great. And you know what, I think I could probably talk to you about these topics, for many hours. So I do want to stop here. And thank you for launching this podcast, because it’s being being part of the public health community. And just knowing you personally, I really enjoyed listening to the podcast, it was the time that, you know, I got to like, hear about other people’s thoughts while I was walking to work. And it was amazing to see the different experiences that people were having the advice that people had to share. And even though, you know, I’m working in public health, I have a job, I still love hearing people’s thoughts about these topics, because it’s just relevant to anything. I mean, if I wanted to look for another job, or if I wanted to help someone in the same field, look for another job, I think just kind of going to the website PH SPOT. But even listening to some of these podcasts about people’s careers is kind of just this amazing resource that we knew, we didn’t know that we needed. And it’s just funny that like, when we were graduating from our program, there wasn’t a resource like this around and we kind of just had to do what you said that many people did is just reach out to those that we knew in our network and ask them, but, you know, you only have a few stories that way and make that now there’s this huge resource where you get to hear multiple stories, and not just those that are kind of like local, but even people doing work globally, has been so amazing. So congratulations, once again, on just kind of being able to do this podcast throughout this year, and keeping up with everything that you do at PH SPOT. I mean, you and the team should be so proud of yourselves. I’m so glad that you let me interview you for episode because I know we we made this deal a year ago where I was like, you know, really like once you get to the end, I would really love to kind of turn the mic on you and ask you these questions. And I love just kind of hearing all of your answers. And I think anyone that’s listening to this podcast will leave feeling more inspired. And knowing that there, there’s just so much more to public health, it’s out there and next year, I’m sure the content that you come up with is going to be even better.

Sujani 38:42
Oh, thank you. And yeah no, like you said, this platform, we didn’t know we needed and it’s available to everyone. And I think the biggest message I want to share is that even though myself and my team kind of keep up the website in the back end, and we we operate it. PH SPOT and the platform is truly truly truly community driven. And so it’s as much as you know, my baby. It’s also every individual and public health. It’s it’s your platform, and you get to choose how or what direction we’re going to go on. So if you have ideas, if you have suggestions for anything for PH SPOT, I’m all yours and I’m always always always looking for that. So it’s your platform. That’s really what I want everyone to take away from PH SPOT.

Sujani 39:05
So I hope you enjoyed that episode with Lathika and myself and just hearing about how PH SPOT came to life. How it’s been recording this podcast, PH SPOTlight and our one year journey as we kind of navigated this new life during a pandemic and how that’s been challenging for us but also you know how we were able to get back into putting out more regular podcast episode. And we’re hoping we can continue that into 2021. And also, you know, to reiterate what I said at the end of the interview with Lathika, this is truly a platform for all public health professionals. And I want this platform to be yours as much as it is the PH SPOT team’s platform. So if you have ideas, or want to be a guest on the podcast, or contribute to our blog, certainly reach out to us, we are always open to having contributions on the PH SPOT platform. And with that, I want to wish everyone a happy new year. It’s been a challenging year for everyone. So I hope you’ll take some time to reflect set some goals and get excited about 2021 and spend time with your loved ones. And so with that, take care of yourselves and until next time, thank you so much for tuning into PH SPOTlight and for the invaluable work that you do for this world.

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About the Show

PH SPOTlight: Public health career stories, inspiration, and guidance from current-day public health heroes

On the show, Sujani sits down with public health heroes of our time to share career stories, inspiration, and guidance for building public health careers. From time to time, she also has conversations with friends of public health – individuals who are not public health professionals, but their advice and guidance are equally important.

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