© The Washington Leadership Program 2017 by Shaunak Turaga

WLP 2018 Week 7: Embracing Life’s Uncertainties

July 30, 2018

Here are some things I know for certain. I love Michigan (the school and the state). Pineapples should not be on pizza. The WLP is amazing, and my cohort is like family.

 

A little less certain? What my future holds. I am one of our cohort’s many pre-meds – I hoped that working in our nation’s capital would help me integrate my interests in public health and government into a medical career. I am amazed by all the opportunities I have learned about since arriving here seven weeks ago. I am equally overwhelmed thinking how I could possibly achieve my continuously compounding list of life goals.

 

Fortunately, a panel with Meg Shah and Satyam Khanna alleviated my concerns. They talked about the many turns they took to get to where they are now. They also offered amazing advice, including: 1) You have more time than you think to figure out what you want to do in life. 2) Abolish all your plans! Be receptive to what comes your way. 3) Always be willing to learn.

                                                     

But we didn’t just overcome career roadblocks this week. In true WLP fashion, we had a jam-packed week of events with amazing speakers and important life lessons. Monday’s panel with Rich Verma and Nisha Biswal, both incredibly accomplished in their respective foreign policy work, reminded us, as South Asian Americans, the importance of staying informed about international relations. Thursday’s meeting with esteemed journalists Manu Raju and Ishaan Tharoor helped us understand the media’s role in our country post-2016. I thought my journalism career ended after my stint as editor-in-chief of my middle school newspaper, but I found myself fascinated by their experiences of breaking stories and analyzing news events.

 

Wednesday’s lunch with Dr. Vivek Murthy and Dr. Alice Chen reminded me why I wanted to be a doctor in the first place. The two, as former Surgeon General and Executive Director of Doctors for America, respectively, have shown me that it is indeed possible to make a difference as a public servant AND a physician. We discussed our healthcare system, Medicare for All’s pros and cons, and blue zones. They also offered us life advice, including that 1) there is no substitute to talking to real people when wanting to write policy and 2) self-care is so, so important.

 

I have also learned a lot at my internship with Congressman Ro Khanna’s office, where I have interacted with constituents, drafted communications pieces, and researched policies. I have seen how Capitol Hill operates (it’s both very fast-paced and very gradual), worked with fantastic and friendly staffers, and learned how to make tangible impacts to better the community. Congressman Khanna inspires me with his own passion to help his community, and I hope to emulate that someday.

 

I can’t believe our program ends so soon! We’ve done so much – museums, monuments, 4th of July, bowling at the White House (!!), our leadership project, Bollywood movie nights, many dinners – I’m so grateful to have made eight lifelong friends. I thank Nisha, Harin, and everyone else in WLP for helping us grow personally and professionally this summer.

 

And now I know that after a summer in this crazy city, the possibilities for my future are endless, with so many ways to integrate my many interests before, during, and after medical school. I’m beginning to embrace all of life’s uncertainties, and I find myself happier for it.

 

One new thing I know for certain? I’m definitely coming back to DC.

 

Sincerely,

Zoha Qureshi

Congressman Ro Khanna’s Office

University of Michigan ’19

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