Shailja Tiku, born and raised in Jammu and Kashmir, who has been crowned Mrs Wisconsin International 2019, is now vying for Mrs International 2019.
Explaining her journey from J&K to US, she says, “I was born and raised in a Kashmiri Pandit family in India, and moved to the United States, nearly fifteen years ago, for my advanced medical education.”
She started her journey as a medical doctor but wanted to pursue more opportunities in health prevention.”
She has received her master’s degree in public health from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and currently pursuing her doctorate in public health at the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health, Milwaukee.
She’s married to Amit Aneja, who is a physician, and they have an 8-year-old son, Arin.
Why public health and preventive medicine interests you?
My passion for preventive medicine stems from my experiences as a practiced physician. I have encountered some of the most life-changing experiences with my patients and not knowing how to help them through it, shifted my practice from treatment-based methods to preventative. We don’t want to become hamsters on a wheel. We need to find effective ways to curb the problem before it becomes a “problem.” There is so much that we can do upstream to prevent disease and disability in the first place.
How challenging is to don multiple hats- pageantry, being a PhD student, a daughter, a wife, practitioner, researcher, and a mother.
It truly is a lot, I feel, especially so when we do not have the support of extended family and grand-parents, who live in India! But I am a very determined and passionate person. I am very passionate about what I do and strongly believe in doing something that is bigger than myself and leave the world a better place, in whatever ways I can! It is this passion and belief that motivates me to work hard so I can leave the world a bit better!
For someone who doesn’t know about Mrs International 2019, please tell us about it.
Mrs International is a global level beauty pageant, organized by International pageant system. The system showcases and celebrates the accomplishments of married women. In July, I will be competing with (and not “against”) talented and amazing women from around the United States and across the world for the title of Mrs. International 2019.
As Mrs Wisconsin International 2019, you are required to have some platform. Your platform is ‘Mental Health Promotion’.
Absolutely! Since having the honor of becoming Mrs. Wisconsin International, I have explored partnerships with multiple community organization in implementing my platform and affecting change in Wisconsin communities. I strongly believe that health is not just the absence of physical or somatic symptoms, but is a state of complete Physical, Mental, Emotional, Social and Spiritual wellbeing. Our physiological make-up affects the way the rest of our body functions. And having a healthy mind truly contributes to a complete lifestyle. And, as someone who has struggled with anxiety (and overcame it), this is a topic very close to my heart. Additionally, when we examine the data and evidence of mental health disease, it is very concerning. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 Americans live with a mental health illness! And the worst is generations behind. Suicide rates and mental health disorders plaque teenagers today in what public health professionals term an epidemic. We all have or love someone who has lived with a mental health illness at some point in their lives, so we definitely need to do more.
The last thoughts.
My family and friends have been very supportive of me on this huge journey. My husband, Amit, my son, my parents, my friends in US and in India, my sponsors… all of them are a huge part of my journey and I could not have done it without their support! And, I am very grateful for that!