Picking blueberries is a challenging task, but the lessons I learned in the rural blueberry fields of Nova Scotia still resonate today in my position as a medical technologist in the Pathology Department at St. Jude.
As a teen, I spent tireless hours in the summertime filling a single box of blueberries to earn $2. The first year, I made $80. It was tedious labor, but it required concentration and focus to ensure the greatest yield. Each year, I learned to work smarter. By my fourth summer, I earned $500 for the season.
My family emigrated from India to Canada when I was a young boy, and my parents taught my brother and me the importance of hard work. They wanted us to care about what we do and to focus on the present task. You have to love what you are doing, and that makes you want to give your best effort. That’s who I still am today.
I joined St. Jude in February 2003, working in Pathology’s molecular microbiology lab and later moving to the core lab. Each day, I analyze hundreds of body fluids and samples to determine patients’ complete blood counts and basic and complete metabolic panels.
These vital and often urgent analyses can reveal critical readings such as abnormal levels of potassium or hemoglobin. Clinicians then use this information to act quickly if a patient’s results indicate a life-threatening situation.
These results must be as precise as possible. I know that each day I make a difference in someone’s life—it may be a patient who will never see me and who may not know what I’ve done. But it’s an integral piece of the puzzle that helps caregivers decide on the correct course of treatment.
One constant throughout my career has been recognizing opportunities and working hard to succeed. It’s the same mindset that my wife, Daxsha—also a St. Jude employee—and I share with our two sons, who are engineering students at the University of Alabama.
I love what I do, and I give everything I have every day. St. Jude has provided me with a sense of purpose. I know that whatever I am doing, it’s for the benefit of the patients.
Sanjay Verma is a medical technologist in the Pathology core lab at St. Jude.