saba parvez
Saba's sister, Shamma, surrounded by family on her wedding day.
Saba Parvez
resilience
How Saba Parvez is Moving Forward
Research scientist Saba Parvez shares his personal story of grief and struggle from last year, and his hope and silver linings for the future.

Saba, how are you really?

My

name is Saba. I am a postdoc research scientist in the College of Pharmacy at the U, and I would like to share a little bit of my experience. Even though I don’t represent the entire postdoc community, I think a lot of us would agree that this past year has been incredibly difficult both professionally and personally. To say that Covid has disrupted our research here at the U would be an understatement. 

When the lockdown began, we had to stop our work with almost no notice. Not being able to conduct the research and experiments that we had been prepping for months or years was a significant blow to many of us. Even now, that reduced productivity continues. Although the initial lockdowns have been lifted, we still have to maintain social distancing in the labs, and not everyone can work at the same time. Despite these obstacles, my colleagues and supervisors have been incredibly supportive throughout the pandemic.  

Work hasn’t been the only challenge we’ve faced this year—Covid has also impacted our personal lives. One of my close friends reached out to me yesterday. We had just celebrated his graduation last weekend at the U. His parents couldn’t be there because of the pandemic, but they attended the ceremony virtually. He messaged me last night to tell me that his dad had passed away because of Covid.  

On a personal note, I am an international staff member from India, and I’ve been planning to travel back home for a long time. It had been almost three years since I’d visited, and I was planning to return last year for my sister’s wedding. The wedding was postponed because of the pandemic. Then, Covid regulations and subsequent travel and visa bans made it incredibly complicated to go home and see my family at all.  

Even though my trip was delayed, the extremely supportive staff at the Office of General Counsel helped me navigate the visa process, and I flew back home a couple months ago when the pandemic slowed down in India. After almost five years, I was finally able to see my family. 

"My silver linings have shown me that, despite the ups and downs of the last year, we can still look to what the future may bring. "

This year has been hard. I’ve gone through a range of emotions, from the initial uncertainty of not knowing when the pandemic would end, or how it would affect my career, to fearing that I might catch Covid myself. I’ve constantly worried about my friends and family back in India. At the same time, I was so hopeful at how quickly the scientific community came together to develop the vaccines. When I finally went home for my sister’s wedding and hugged my family, I experienced pure happiness. Lately I’ve been feeling guilty, because while we are thinking about moving forward and opening our country back up, the situation in India is worsening. I can’t do anything to help my friends and family.  

This has been so difficult for all of us, but I don’t want to end with doom and gloom. I’m hopeful that we’re reaching the end of the pandemic. Despite the bad times, I’ve experienced some silver linings as well. I pushed through my projects and submitted a manuscript, which is under revision right now. I also managed to secure a postdoctoral fellowship.  

Most importantly, the pandemic allowed me to find time to pause and think about what I want to do with my life and with my research ideas as an independent research scientist in the future. My silver linings have shown me that, despite the ups and downs of the last year, we can still look to what the future may bring.  

Contributor

Saba Parvez

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Utah

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