The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it unprecedented challenges. We, at the TRP, have adapted swiftly to ensure that the program continues to be delivered smoothly. This is a personal memoir of how our Communications & Marketing Coordinator, Zoya Retiwalla has been dealing with the current landscape.
Zoya Retiwalla, TRP Communications & Marketing Coordinator, June 2020
Twenty-Twenty – I have to admit, has a rather futuristic ring to it. When the year began, I had a dozen plans and among the many ways I imagined this year to progress, a pandemic was not on my list. The coronavirus pandemic has pitted humanity against a virus that has enormously damaged health, wealth, and well-being.
This modern pandemic of the 21st century has reinforced the fact that life throws curveballs when you least expect. Reading the news and hearing about COVID-19 every day can be jarring. Maintaining a normal lifestyle in the current landscape is challenging. Punctuated with constant uncertainty, times like these inevitably bring out negatives.
However, my experience with this predicament has been pleasantly surprising. As humans, our trademark still resides in adaptation and resilience. Yes, none of us expected a global pandemic to wreak havoc in our lives. Yes, we all had a million plans which are now hampered. Yes, these are difficult times. But have we transformed and reshaped as a society? The answer is a poignant affirmative.
At the TRP, we strongly believe in disruptive reforms when faced with obstacles. Challenges, for us, are synonymous with opportunities. As the world prepared for the “new normal”, the Translational Research Program quickly rose to the test and swiftly moved our operations to virtual modes. The team worked meticulously to ensure that our students receive a befitting and impactful graduate experience.
Our program holds meaningful collaborations and communications extremely important. As the communications coordinator, the onus was on me to bring impactful new ways to keep the networking going. Exploring different means and fostering connectivity has been an intriguing and exciting ride. From expanding the boundaries of virtual conferences to bringing voices from the frontline of this pandemic, the possibilities are endless.
From the numerous initiatives the TRP launched, the two that have been the close to my heart are “TRP Heroes” and “TRP Up-Close”. The former gives an unabashed voice to our community’s healthcare and associated professionals while the latter gives a platform to the TRP Team to share their experiences and prowess with our diverse network of people.
Both these initiatives are relevant in today’s landscape and hence their execution was time-sensitive. Strategizing, networking, and adapting – these have been the cornerstones that have helped me shape these initiatives successfully. Challenges are a part of the job at the TRP. I had to learn quickly – from marketing for the campaign to professionally editing numerous videos, COVID-19 has allowed me to grow as a person and a professional.
Running the communications and marketing for the TRP has taught me a lot. Among the many things I hold dear, the two TRP pandemic initiatives have been the most rewarding. I get to do my bit by helping bring the community together and by helping with effective knowledge transfer. From Naomi’s Project Northern Lights to Conner’s 3-D printing PPEs initiative, from Ibrar’s COVID-19 initiative in his home country to Andrew & Zoey’s end-of-life-care initiative, from Shayan’s advocacy for international medical graduates to Chris’ insight on open science to Sidhesh‘s honest take on mental health – I’m glad I could be a part of their inspiring journeys. In a nutshell for me, the TRP offers a multitude of inspirational opportunities.
I fervently believe that struggle births something new. Unless we are faced with dire situations, change won’t surface, and only when we step out of our comfort zones can something great be achieved. Let us look at this pandemic as a wake-up call to unite and better serve each other and our society. Now is our time to be strong and to actualize that which is hidden within us and bring it to its true potential.
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Zoya Retiwalla is a biotechnologist with a strong genetic grasp and business acumen. She joined the Medical genomics program to learn the current trends in genetics along with understanding how to better communicate science to bridge the knowledge gap that exists between genetic experts and non-professionals. She likes to think of herself as a Jack of all trades and master of some. Among other things, Zoya currently works as a Communications, Marketing, and Recruitment Coordinator for the Translational Research Program.