At St. Peter Lutheran Church in the dusty farm town of Fresno, California, nearly all 30 dancers in Miss
Star’s class rise to their toes, raise their arms above their heads, and balance--perfectly poised
beneath the cathedral dome--before gently rocking back onto their heels. Remarkably, every dancer in
this class--from the 37-year-old trucker to the math professor in her 80s--has Parkinson’s disease
(PD). An hour has passed since my crew began rolling the cameras for our biopsychosocial
documentary film. Yet, these inspiring patients now had a restored sense of control over their bodies
that they did not have when they arrived earlier with walkers and canes. For a few magical seconds, I
am surrounded not by patients with Parkinson’s but athletes with determination, and I found myself
stilled by the perceived miracle before me.
I froze then, but my life is about motion. With roots in Seychelles and married by arrangement, my
parents emigrated from India to start the only Sikh family in what felt like an insular and predominantly
white neighborhood and district in Fresno. Technological innovations piqued my curiosity. I rocketed to
Silicon Valley, eager to learn how to improve society. Listening to others and determining their needs, I
honed my interpersonal skills at Goldman Sachs. I powered through UC Berkeley’s grueling chemical
engineering program before joining a quantum computing startup. Despite the unique thrill of quantum
technology, I felt incomplete.
I realized why I felt unfulfilled in Silicon Valley while attending a biotech conference. A team of doctors
introduced me to a paralyzed man named Tim. The surgically placed computer in his brain allowed Tim
to control a neuroprosthetic limb via his thoughts. As my thoughts raced to brain-computer interfaces,
Tim’s robotic arm reached out to grasp his wife’s hand. For the first time since his motorcycle accident
a decade earlier, Tim felt another person’s touch. Their joy was incandescent. By repairing his neural
circuitry, the physician-engineers were, in a way, restoring Tim. Quantum computers now felt
impersonal and abstract, whereas this--improving people’s lives directly--seemed tangible and real.
The impact that medical science had on Tim electrified me with purpose. My interests in health and the
human body deepened. I returned to Fresno, motivated to convert my interests into actions within my
Six months into my first clinical experience scribing, a farmer with PD presented to the emergency
department with rib and pelvic fractures. After slipping and falling fourteen stairs, he lay in bed,
struggling to still his quaking limb. As this was the fourth time an uninsured migrant worker with
Parkinson’s sought care, it dawned on me that many of the PD patients also worked in agriculture.
These clinical observations sparked my investigation of the link between farming and Parkinson’s,
taking my team and me from the Weill Institute for Neurosciences to Miss Star’s “Dance for PD” class.
Researching the etiology of Parkinson’s through the medium of documentary added a new perspective
to my limited understanding. I was surprised to learn how cultural practices like pesticide use can
contribute to neurodegeneration; others, like dance therapy, attenuate levodopa-induced side effects.
The miracle in Miss Star’s class would turn out to be the constellation of doctors fluent in
pathophysiology with the ability to apply abstract knowledge to relieve concrete suffering. I, too,
wanted to make a clear and definitive intervention, like deep brain stimulation, at a critical moment in a
person’s life. Seeing the transformative capacity medical treatments have on patients intensified my
desire to contribute to the giant puzzle of a future without PD.
While growing awareness of gaps in healthcare throughout my clinical pursuits, I filled in gaps in my
premedical knowledge as a STEM and MCAT instructor. I felt strongly that socioeconomically
disadvantaged students during the COVID-19 pandemic should have access to quality study materials
and mentorship. I made an effort to create engaging content reliably at my nonprofit,
MedEdEquity.com. My students succumbing to structural obstacles remind me of a core value: nobody
should go without the fruits of medical science and technology, even as we shelter-in-place. I believe
the range of challenges encouraged me to develop flexibility and creativity to enable my success as a
Each of my experiences enriched my understanding of medicine as an emotionally and intellectually
rewarding career. Since meeting Tim, I have reinforced my resolve to help others at the interface of
societal issues and scientific discovery. Volunteering with vulnerable veterans and the homeless,
teaching the MCAT over virtual reality, and producing a documentary on a public health issue--I look
forward to eliminating disparities. My motivation stems from opportunities to improve outcomes of
communities through clinical interaction and translational research. I believe my passion for medicine
and conviction to serve can make a significant difference in the health of society’s underserved. I
cannot wait for an opportunity to provide Parkinson’s patients with (hopefully) many more magical