WCU Public Health Student Sees Impact of Outreach, Inspired to Make a Difference

WCU graduates and cousins Sanya and Sagar Bedi.

As Sanya Bedi’s undergraduate classwork in biology at the University of California Merced was nearing its end and she was beginning to turn her attention to “what’s next,” the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

With such a dramatic change happening around her, Bedi’s immediate focus shifted from her career to “What can I do right now to help?” After some exploration, she found her way to the Merced County Department of Public Health where she became a case investigator in August 2020. In this role, she reached out to some of the community’s most in-need residents, including the elderly, individuals with pre-existing conditions, public health nurses, and school staff.

“During this experience, I realized how little information some of the people who need it the most have,” Bedi said.

One such example was a man she encountered who was in his sixties, illiterate, and living by himself. After conducting the necessary interview for the case report, Bedi began running through the services the county provided, including notably the delivery of food and water right to the homes of those who needed it.

The man was so relieved to learn of this service because he hadn’t been out of his house for several days in fear of potentially infecting someone else with COVID, and he was in need of basic necessities like food and water. This small action represents the essence of public health: Discover the needs of the community, identify the individuals/groups who need assistance the most, and then reduce barriers and provide access to those needs.

“That experience was one of the reasons I knew I wanted to continue doing this (public health), that this is where I need to be, this is what I need to be doing,” Bedi said. “A lot of people in this field really, really want to make a difference. I saw how much our county (Merced) really wanted to help the community, and that made me want to pursue this.”

Bedi Cites ‘Support’ as a Major Influence for Choosing West Coast University

Bedi looked at several schools before choosing West Coast University. She said she selected WCU in large part because of the supportive admissions team that stayed with her every step of the way as she worked to complete the last and most difficult class of her undergraduate degree at UC Merced—Anatomy & Physiology—in the fall of 2020.

Sanya Bedi also had the support of her cousin, Sagar Bedi, who was researching similar master’s programs and proceeded to enroll in the WCU Master of Public Health program with Sanya. Sanya jumped right into her MPH classwork with her cousin, and the two graduated together in November 2021.

“Even though I was taking classes online, it felt like I had someone along with me the entire way,” Sanya said of the experience of completing the online MPH program at the same time as her cousin.

It was right around this time that she connected with Elisia Sanchez from WCU’s Career Services team. Sanya said Sanchez and the Career Services team were a terrific resource for her, helping with resume and interview tips, access to career fairs and career specialists, and networking. She points to all of the support she received as the catalyst in helping her obtain a job as a data analyst for a hospital system.

Making a Difference in Her Home Community

Sanya is very satisfied with her role, but that desire to do something more, to make a difference in her community, continued to pull at her. She took another big-picture look at her career and as she did this, she decided to pursue her doctoral degree in public health.

“I want to do my own research with my own community, specifically India,” she said. “There’s not a lot of public health in India, not like we have in California, and I want to be able to make a difference in a community that basically hasn’t been touched.”

Sanya Bedi, WCU Master of Public Health graduate

Online MPH Program for Students Who Want to Make a Big Impact

This is the story of just one student from WCU’s online Master of Public Health program. If you’re interested in making a difference in the health and well-being of entire communities, you may want to consider a career in public health just like Sanya Bedi.

WCU’s online MPH program at WCU can completed in as little as 16 months at the Accelerated pace. Or,  for those who may have professional or personal commitments they are balancing, the program can be completed in as many as 28 months.

If you make a difference and you think public health is an area of interest, learn more about WCU’s online MPH program.

WCU provides career guidance and assistance but cannot guarantee employment. The views and opinions expressed are those of the individuals and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs or position of the school or of any instructor or student.