Alumni aim to return to UNMC for convocation 'walk'

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | October 25, 2018

Image with caption: Drs. Urmi Basu and Soumitra Bhuyan

Drs. Urmi Basu and Soumitra Bhuyan

Soumitra Bhuyan, Ph.D., assistant professor of health systems, management, and policy, at the University of Memphis, is grateful for the time he spent working toward his graduate degree at UNMC. It gave him the background for, and both the scholarship and hands-on experience needed to obtain, a faculty position at a nationally ranked health management graduate program.

But that is not what he is most grateful for.

"The greatest thing UNMC did for me," Dr. Bhuyan said, "was I found my wife."

Urmi Basu, Ph.D., also went through UNMC's graduate studies program, earning her doctorate in cellular and integrative physiology in 2015. She was a Graduate Student of Distinction and earned a 2014 Young Investigator award from the Society for Free Radical Biology & Medicine (SFRBM).

They were married and she was working as a postdoc at University of Tennessee Health Science Center, also in Memphis. She was just days away from her graduate studies convocation and winter commencement, when Dr. Basu suffered a stroke.

Determinedly, she undertook a strenuous rehabilitation program.

"She is recovering," Dr. Bhuyan said, "but there is still a long way to go."

Her long-term goal is to return to her career as a scientist.

A shorter-term goal, for both of them, is that she returns to UNMC, and make that walk at commencement and convocation, that she never got to make.

"Hopefully," Dr. Bhuyan said, "they will allow us to walk. I was the witness of her hard work and would love watch her at the podium."

Pamela Carmines, Ph.D., executive associate dean of graduate studies, said Dr. Basu would be welcomed with open arms at an upcoming convocation.

Meanwhile, he continues his career at Memphis. Last year, one of his manuscripts won the 2017 Charles E. Gibbs Leadership Prize.

While still at UNMC, he was honored with the "Rising Star" award from the APHA (American Public Health Association) Health Administration Section in 2013.

"As a student I did a lot of presentations and conferences," he said. While doing work related to the primary-care workforce shortage in Nebraska, "I felt like I kind of contributed to the national discussion on healthcare workforce issues. UNMC is a great place to learn rural health."

The unique opportunity, "helped me not only get ideas in the classroom, but also truly see the bigger picture," he said.

While many that he worked with have moved on, he believes the College of Public Health is in good hands. " The COPH is fortunate to have some wonderful internationally recognized public health leaders- some of the best in the field. They have a great vision for the college. I would not be surprised to see UNMC COPH become one of the best schools of public health, not only in the U.S. but worldwide.

"UNMC is a great place," he said. "We had a great team, and still, I think they have a great team."

He is thankful to UNMC for helping shape him, and to everyone who stood in support in the wake of his wife's stroke.

"We are forever grateful," he said.

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