In this interview series we ask questions to people who are making a difference in our society, it can be big, it can be small, it doesn’t matter, what matters is their contribution. It can be anyone from any walk of life and from any country. Please, do send us suggestions of people whom you think we should interview for this series.
Isha Patkar is a student and a recipient of All-Arounder award at the 10th anniversary of the Global Thrombosis Forum. She enjoys reading novels, traveling around the world, doing gymnastics, and spending time with her family and friends. Following are her response to our questions.
- Tell us something about yourself?
My name is Isha Patkar and I am sixteen years old. I attend Fulton science academy and am in 11th grade there. I used to live in Wisconsin and moved to the Atlanta area around 5 years ago and I really love all the opportunities this area has to offer. Not only have I met great people but I have been able to
continue doing the things I love. This includes traveling to many different countries and also continuing gymnastics.
2. Why do you want to go into the medical field? Any particular areas you are interested in?
I was always curious about the human body, its ailments, and different ways to treat it. My interest blossomed in a summer spent with my aunt, a nephrologist, who discussed treatment options with me after she learned of my interest. Since then, I have actively sought out forums to further my learning. In school, HOSA gave me the opportunity to explore mammalogy and breast cancer. At gymnastics, I reflected on the interactions between muscles, bones, and movement when flipping twenty feet in the air. I am not sure which specialty I want to go into yet but have had the opportunity of exploring many different fields.
3. Whom do you see as your ideal/ideal(s) and why?
I have many ideals or role models branching from all the different aspects of my life. Firstly, my parents always teach me and my siblings how to work hard and achieve our goals while having time to enjoy with family and friends. I was very fortunate to grow up in a household where determination and perseverance were taught, where all of our accomplishments were celebrated, and where all setbacks were treated as simply an obstacle on the path to success. In the gymnastics world, Simone Biles and Mykayla Skinner are big role models of mine since both of these gymnastics have gotten to the highest level in the world-the Olympics- through hard work, grit, and commitment. This inspires me to never give up on my goals even if they seem unreachable or too difficult.
4. What got you into gymnastics, have you considered professional sports as a career option?
When I was just two years old, my parents noticed me trying to mimic US Olympic gymnasts competing at the 2008 Summer Olympics when watching as a family on TV. I used the back of our sofa as a balance beam and the center table as the vault! My parents decided to enroll me in a tumbling class at the local YMCA. I quickly went through the program with ease and hence the instructor recommended that I be enrolled in a proper gymnastics program. I started in the Advanced Preschool program at age 3 and was chosen to be in the team competitive track in a year. The instructor saw that I had a proclivity to the sport and was able to focus, listen closely, and follow instructions which is critical in this sport. By age 7, I was competing at Level 2 and then progressed from there on. I do not see myself doing gymnastics or another sport professionally but will definitely continue through high school.
5. How did you cope with the lockdown during Covid-19? How did it affect you as a student?
I feel as though I coped with the lockdown relatively well and quickly adapted to the new changes of not leaving the house for school, gymnastics, etc. With school, we started to do virtual classes but this was not difficult since we had covered the harder topics previously in the year. I was able to keep up with my
schoolwork and assignments well then use my time to complete other tasks throughout the day. For example, my daily schedule would consist of waking up around 7 am to run on the treadmill and stretch out my muscles. Then, I would complete any and all schoolwork I needed to do that day or even complete it for the week. I worked with Caring Confections, a small fundraising shop my sister and I opened at this time. After my work, I would join the zoom meeting I had with my gymnastics teammates and coaches to do about an hour of strength training and exercise. Then, I would do a little more exercise on my own to make sure I could bounce back to gymnastics quickly when the lockdown was over. After this, I usually cleaned my room, did laundry, or planned out the next day before going to bed. I believe this daily routine allowed me to use my time inside the home very effectively while still staying safe.
6. What could have been done differently to tackle the pandemic better in your opinion?
During the pandemic, something I noticed was that towards the beginning, many people were not taking the pandemic very seriously but instead were just treating it as a cause that school was canceled. Many people were still consistently engaging in social activities and not following Center for Disease Control
(CDC) protocols such as maintaining distance from one another and using a mask if possible. Even in the middle of the pandemic and towards the end, I feel there were always a couple groups of people not abiding by the necessary safety procedures which, if anything, was only putting them and their loved ones at risk. For this reason, I think the guidelines of keeping distance and wearing a mask could have been better reinforced in communities where gatherings were still being held. I believe the CDC did a great job of informing and educating the public about the dangers of Covid-19 but this may have not reached some people. If everyone had worn a mask and stayed in home when told to, I believe the pandemic may have had less of an impact than it did and less people would have been negatively affected by it.
7. How do you manage your time conducting 22 hours of gymnastics, your school studies, activities at the Global Thrombosis Forum, and enjoying your personal life?
Being a competitive gymnast who has taken high-level classes and balanced many clubs for the majority of my time in school, I have, in a way, been forced to adopt an organized routine with meticulous time management. Every free second, whether it is the time in the car heading to practice, or the thirty minutes right after I return home, is spent with purpose. However, as I have learned recently, this does not necessarily mean doing work at every empty time slot available. Instead, finding a way to incorporate effective work time, planning time, meal times, and unwinding times into my day is just as important as solely completing assignments. The fact is, that when one merely focuses on completing the task in a certain time, the effort is usually minimal resulting in subpar results. This often further discourages the student, teacher, etc. from wanting to do well on the task at hand. Let us take one step further. If the results are subpar, there will be negative comments or imperfect grades on that project, which might result in further disappointment, lowering the morale of the student. For this reason, I have adapted a schedule that allows me to complete my work with time remaining, allowing time for planning the next week, while maintaining a healthy sleep schedule. I firmly believe that if one puts his or her mind to properly learning
the techniques of time management and organization, the quality of both life, and work will improve. Some specific techniques I use are the keeping of a planner and the use of a study technique which allows 50 minutes for studying then 10-minute rest, then repeat.
8. I understand you even went to Brazil in October 2022 and participated in your presentation in the International meeting. What is the secret?
I was very grateful to have been given this opportunity along with 7 other talented high school students. I believe time management, organization, and communication were key to the success of this project and presentation. If it were not for the hard work done by Dr. Atul Laddu and Shubangi Maushi, this trip would not have been possible so I wanted to extend hearty thanks and congratulations. Furthermore, since this was a large project which included many steps of conducting research, meeting with my co-worker, forming the presentation, and memorizing the lines, it was important to allot the necessary time for each step. Once this was done, it was mainly about practice, practice, practice, and communicating with Radhika Kulkarni, my co-worker, to ensure we could perform the presentation as seamlessly as possible.
9. How does it feel to be honored with the All-Rounder Award in GTF?
I am extremely grateful and elated at being honored with the All-Rounder Award at GTF, which is the highest award given by GTF. I was very honored to be selected and am so happy to have grown with GTF this past year. I would like to thank the GTF Board and my parents very much for the opportunities
and unwavering support.
10. Which social issues concern you the most and why?
The outlook for climate change and global warming resonates the most with me and subsequently concerns me the most. Having taken many classes in which I have explored the effect of fossil fuels, other nonrenewable energy sources, and political warfare on this topic, I am worried about the future of the
world if change is not made quickly. The climate crisis will not only affect one group of people or one area of the world but will have drastic impacts on everyone in the very near future. However, there are measures in place to combat the crisis and to try and undo some of the damage we have done to the
world. Even if one individual like myself cannot have an impact on the bills passed or the treaties signed with other countries, by taking small actions myself and encouraging others to do the same, change can be made.
11. What other interests, and hobbies do you have?
Outside of school and gymnastics, reading and traveling are some of my favorite hobbies. I also love to use the platform I have coupled with my experiences to promote gymnastics among South Asian communities since there is a lack of representation among this group in the sport of gymnastics. I was very fortunate to be asked to speak about my experiences by Maharashtra Mandal. I want to encourage young girls, especially in the South Asian community to not give up on their dreams and to try new things despite a lack of representation of precedence in the past.
12. Your message for our readers?
If I could tell one piece of advice to the readers which I feel is very important is to never forget why you started. If you ever feel like giving up or quitting just remember why you started and how far you have come. Whether this is in a sport or an academic endeavor, it is sure to become very difficult at times when it seems to be too much. However, perseverance and hard work will always help you to overcome these barriers and reach your goals.