More Than a Grad Student: Making a Local Impact
By Meredith Oglesby
Graduate students at the University of Florida make an impact on a local, state, national and international level through their dedication to teaching, research, service and learning. Biswadeep Dhar, a Ph.D. student in youth development and family sciences, exemplifies the commitment graduate students have for influencing communities, mentoring future generations and developing professionally. Dhar shared his experience as a CALS graduate student and the future he is building at the University of Florida.
We know each student is more than just a graduate student. Tell us about your experience studying youth development and family sciences at the graduate level in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.
I have always been interested in families and community health disparities. My research interests lie in human development and socio-behavioral health relating to chronic diseases and health disparities. Although our FYCS Graduate Student Association is growing, I consider it as a close-knit group, where everyone has the equal opportunity to share their ideas and advocate for solutions further fostering professional development for graduate students. Our Ph.D. program is doing a brilliant job in paving the way for future family and behavioral scientists.
You have worked hard on your research project. Tell us about what your research is and how you believe it will make an impact in your field.
After gaining research experiences in biomedical sciences relating to chronic diseases from UF-Medicine, I got energized with a sense of excitement about understanding chronic disease from a different lens, the social determinants of health and all it has to offer with an emphasis on health disparities. Although we have several answers relating to the biological and molecular mechanisms underlying obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases, it simply fascinated me to dig into the unanswered questions understanding the chronic disease disparities not only by socioeconomic status but also by several other socio-behavioral factors influencing health inequalities.
Along with my dissertation studies, I have been working with Dr. Michael Gutter on a project relating to cancer health disparities in the state of Florida, to investigate the gaps on how family environmental dynamics and type of cancer has an impact on financial burden, particularly financial toxicity among cancer patients from UF Health.
What have been your favorite experiences as a graduate student?
My father, who passed away a few months ago, always encouraged me to do something where I might have an impact on people’s lives. Being a first-generation “Doc
Gator,” I always had this spark within me to go beyond and make an impact. My goal was not just to do well in my academics, but to be well-rounded where my service in leadership might also count while providing opportunities and increase professional development among graduate students and their families in the UF community. The leadership service opportunities I have had are collectively my favorite experiences throughout my time at UF.
What has been your greatest success in graduate school?
I feel fortunate to have utilized various resources at the University of Florida, which have helped me to gain confidence not just in academics, but also in my service and professional development through leadership. One of my greatest satisfactions while in graduate school was when I was able to present a successful teaching proposal in collaboration with a foreign university, which could help future UF students to understand family health science dynamics from a cross-cultural perspective while considering cultural diversity as assets and creating inclusivity in class. This helped me to receive a professional development award which has an award grant I can use for my professional conferences and other scholarly activities.
You are graduating this semester. Congratulations! What do you plan to do after your time as a Gator student ends?
I would like to continue my independent research in the area of chronic disease and community health with the impact of socio-behavioral factors influencing health behavioral changes and chronic diseases. I would also like to extend my dissertation research and teach health promotion and prevention sciences at the same time. To be precise, I would want to study the comparative differences in behavioral health outcomes among Asian Indians living in the United States versus Indians living in India.
Based on my mentoring experiences at the University of Florida, I would also like to continue mentoring in collaboration with the David and Wanda Brown Center for Leadership and Service, while focusing on students’ strengths by relationship building, strategic thinking and effective facilitation. Being a first-generation candidate, I would want to encourage all my first-gen mentees to use the concept of linking and bridging through which they might gain the ability to link and bridge people, irrespective of culture, color, race, and ethnicity.