My twin brother and I were inseparable from the start. We were born in India but emigrated here with our parents when we were two years old. By the time we were teenagers, we were both in a medical magnet high school with early hopes to become doctors. Our parents could not have been prouder. Then, just before our 17th birthday, my brother was brutally murdered in a random, racially-motivated attack.
My brother’s murder was devastating. At his funeral, I pledged to him that one day there would be a “Doctor Chander” because his dream lived in me. Soon after his death, we found out that his murderers were our age but did not have positive influences in their lives or in their community. While I was angry and heartbroken, I couldn’t help but wonder if my brother would be alive today if the young men who killed him had positive role models in their lives. I felt compelled to one day become a pediatrician and to work with young troubled youth, like those who took my brother’s life, in the hopes that I could provide intervention in their lives.
Having learned at an early age how precious family is, I decided to stay in Florida so I could remain close to my parents and younger brother. While I was getting my Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of South Florida, I met my future husband. We dated for seven years and got married promptly after graduating from University of Florida’s College of Medicine and completing our educational goals. He’s now an oncologist, and we recently moved from Gainesville, Florida, to Orlando, Florida, for his work. We have two adorable daughters, ages three and four, who we love more than anything in the world.
During my residency at USF, a colleague told me about the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). I was overjoyed to find out that there was a program that would help with my student loans and allow me to work with the population I most wanted to serve. I believe strongly in the NHSC’s mission of serving those without access to care. Even though we’ve recently moved, I was able to transfer sites and stay with the NHSC. I looked at several NHSC sites in Orlando, but chose the Orlando Regional Outpatient Center because their mission is similar to the NHSC’s.
I feel blessed to have obtained a position as a pediatrician in one of Orlando’s biggest children’s hospitals. In Gainesville, I saw transformations in teenagers who were on a violent and destructive path. They became motivated individuals that whole-heartedly pursued their dreams. With compassion and conscientious care, I hope that I have made a difference in these young people’s lives. If even one teenager chooses a path less violent, then I know my brother would be proud.