Fariha Bablu
Washington-Lee High School
Arlington, VA
12th Grade
Third Place Winner, Virginia

While entrepreneurs who are primarily geared towards building financial wealth or those in the creative
fields may be able to forgo a college experience and dive right into active practice, I am looking for a
career in preventive medicine. As it is generally not considered advisable for would-be doctors to begin
practicing medicine on their friends, I have resigned myself to the requisite years of schooling needed to
become licensed.

All jokes aside, college is extremely important to me, and thoroughly necessary for my future success. I
want to study biology in order to discover how to improve the health of women worldwide and to create
better healthcare platforms that aid families in developing countries. My ultimate long-term goal is to
blend my love of science and my love of service into a career in preventive medicine.

I have always known I wanted to pursue a career in science, but was never sure exactly what. Then I
went to Bangladesh. While traveling the countryside, I saw families in houses with no electricity and dirt
floors. I saw men laboring in the rice fields as women struggled to cook with the same river water that
they washed their children in. There was no regular hospital: women gave birth with female midwives, on
their homes’ dirt floors. Despite this, Bangladesh has been able to eliminate maternal and neonatal
tetanus, a potentially fatal disease that many countries still struggle with. Caused by a toxin of
Clostridium tetani bacteria, the disease occurs through infection of the unhealed umbilical stump,
commonly when the stump is cut with a non-sterile instrument. It is also associated with non-sterile
delivery and unsanitary cord-care practices. Mothers who are affected by the disease can pass it on to
infants and put them at risk. Newborns with tetanus can stop feeding, their bodies can become stiff,
severe muscle contractions may occur, and death can follow. How did Bangladesh manage to eliminate
it? And could their methods be used in other poor countries to improve maternal health? I knew I wanted
to find out.

These are the kinds of questions I want to explore at the college I attend in the future. The revelations
from this trip exemplified what higher education means to me. Not only is it necessary for me personally
to go to college for the degree I want to pursue, but educating others about health would be part and
parcel of my future career. In my ideal future, I envision myself in a research lab, developing medicines
that are cheaper and more effective. I see myself working with the health departments of other countries
to bring their medical systems up to date. I want to assist developing nations in putting into place
systems that ensure the health of all women. College will allow me to put my passion to work on a
broader scale, in projects which will allow me to create the change I want to see in the world.

But college is not merely a necessary step towards medical school for me. The experiences of college are as a essential as part of my education as the classes that I know I will have to take in calculus and
chemistry. And just as crucially, I want to meet people just as passionate about health and service as I
am. College would not only provide high-end laboratories and worldwide research opportunities where I
can explore ways to better fight diseases in developing countries, but the kind of people who care as much about this work as I do. I want to learn from professors who have hands-on experience in the fields of biology and health. I want to connect with students as enthusiastic about combining science and
service as me, and brainstorm ways to change the world. College isn't just a seat of education; it's a
bridge to a wider world.

A college education would open up the world to me, just as traveling to Bangladesh did. While I know I
am going to go for a career in medicine, college gives me a chance to study a wide range of subjects
before subjecting myself to the oh-so-enviable strain of med school. While majoring in biology, I also plan
to take courses like psychology or social anthropology. I know college will be the path to allow me to
participate in a wide range of activities as well, such as studying abroad, taking internships and
volunteering in community outreach programs. Not only can I benefit others by bringing my strong
opinions and unique experiences to the table, but I know I will benefit from the people that I surround
myself with. I want to learn from others, explore new cultures and overall surround myself with a wealth
of knowledge.

I can see myself using my degree to help people worldwide. After obtaining a degree in biology and with
the skills I obtain at college, I know I would have a strong resume for med school. Studying a STEM
subject like biology would open doors for me to be successful in my quest to improve maternal health
around the globe. Working in a STEM related field would allow me to seek new opportunities as a young
woman and break societal norms. I want to examine how poor living conditions in differing environments
affect pregnant women’s outcomes. I hope to uncover a template that can be used in other developing
countries to better maternal health.

A college education will help me immerse myself in this path which will ultimately help me help others. I
know that it will allow me to gain expertise in the subject of medicine and have opportunities like working
with Doctors without Borders, an impactful international humanitarian organization. Being able to be a
part of organizations like Doctors without Borders will allow me to participate in projects delivering
emergency medical aid to people in developing countries. I would have hands-on experience working
with countries like Bangladesh, that are excluded from health care and affected by diseases.

Receiving a college education will allow me to develop my skill set through real world application. Around
the world, women and girls just like me suffer needlessly because the world does not put a premium on
their health. After graduating from college, I will use my advantages and education to fight for a world
that does.

Works Cited

MNT elimination in Bangladesh: a journey towards success. (n.d.). Retrieved February 23, 2018, from
http://www.searo.who.int/bangladesh/mnteliminationbangladesh/en/

Tetanus. (2015, September 08). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/pubs/pinkbook/tetanus.html

Tetanus and neonatal tetanus (NT). (n.d.). Retrieved February 22, 2018, from
http://www.wpro.who.int/immunization/factsheets/tetanus_nt/en/