With her graduation taking place on March 28, 2015, Karishma Maharaj is already out in the field bringing about positive change for the mothers and children of our country. Graduating with her Honours in Public Health from leading tertiary institution, Monash South Africa, Maharaj has already secured a research post in the Respiratory and Meningeal Pathogens Unit of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) and she is actively putting into practice all that she has learned.

Growing up in Johannesburg, Maharaj dreamed of becoming a medical doctor or paramedic. A self-described humanitarian, Maharaj wanted to add value and be fulfilled by serving others and she says, “As the years progressed I set a new path, particularly when I saw the opportunities that were available to be involved in the medical field, but with even more impact and on an even larger scale than in curative care. What I do today entails not only treating or curing diseases, but also includes understanding the determinants and processes of illnesses to create bigger, better and more effective long-term solutions for hundreds or thousands of people, as opposed to one person at a time.”

Maharaj’s time at Monash South Africa, during which she also achieved her undergraduate degree Cum Laude, no doubt contributed to this change of heart: “Throughout my studies at Monash, I grew to love public health and epidemiology. What’s more, my time at Monash really contributed towards my career in medical research, because the Bachelor of Public Health is designed as a very research intensive course. Although difficult at times, it really taught me the fundamentals of health research. I have also found that I am more advanced in terms of my research skills thanks to the excellent foundation Monash’s Public Health programme provides.”

It would seem that Maharaj’s hard work has certainly paid off because in the short time that she has been working since she finished her course in 2014, she is already interacting with leaders in certain United Nations divisions including the World Health Organisation. “These are internationally recognised research organisations which I hope to be a part of one day. Being at the SAMRC for only a short time, I now know that my chosen path was the right one. It is a privilege working with the most vulnerable members of our society and ensuring that through my work I can have a direct and profound impact on their quality of life,” concludes Maharaj.

In the case of Maharaj, the visionary Mahatma Gandhi who truly inspires her perhaps describes the hard-working graduate most accurately: “The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”